Taking Time to “Tink”

Day by Day Warming Shelter | Oshkosh, WIsconsin

Written by Candice Lane

“Tink”, he said in an accent I was unfamiliar with. “Everyone needs to take 30 minutes a day to tink. That is what I do. I take the time to tink.”

Here was a man, a man whose life he carried on his back, who had the ability to bring my day to a roaring halt with one simple word. Think? How in the world was I supposed to have time to think? I had work to do—food to prepare, gifts to get …

Earlier, I found myself gloating about my travel plans, the extra eggnog and gifts I had wrapped in pretty paper and glistening bows. To top off the Christmas season, I was about to add a few hours of holiday helping at the local warming shelter. I had it all together. Unstoppable, I was.

Unstoppable, I believed, until I crashed into the thoughts of this homeless man.

In that one moment, speaking to a man who had voyaged across multiple continents to walk the path he is today, I realized how little I knew. How little I had experienced about myself without the ability to simply sit…and think. As he spoke to another volunteer about his travels, favorite books, and monumental thoughts, I could only stare.

I started to “tink” about the miniscule acts of my day and how, in one conversation, my saving the world seemed to only add to my mind’s demise. Earlier, any space left for thinking was consumed by calculating how many pounds of turkey should be served the next day. Then, in the matter of a minute, my mind was free of any holiday turmoil.

The point in volunteering our time is to reach out and help those in “greater” need, or at least that was my initial assumption upon arriving at Day by Day. Sure, I had a home, a warm bed, and more tangible things than this man—but he gave me a greater gift this season … because as my shift finished and I said my goodbyes, I found myself realizing the power we could all have if we let others teach us just a little bit more, if we started listening to one another and taking just a little bit more time to “tink” each day.

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