Small Town Spotlight: Meet Paul

by Sarah Villafranco, MD /

Meet Paul. A gentle, free-spirited, hippie kind of guy. Long hair in a loose ponytail, signature kerchief around his neck.  Paul looks like he might be headed for (or from) a long hike or a campground.  He can be seen at most local, live music events, his lanky body immersed in whatever rhythm is pulsing through the air. That description fits a lot of people in these parts.  In fact, our little mountain town acts as a magnet for this kind of guy.  Except, on closer inspection, Paul is anything but your average hippie.

Paul is a teacher by training.  Currently, in addition to his window-cleaning business, he is a caretaker for a local man with cerebral palsy and autism.  He is a single dad, home-schooling his daughters, ages 8 and 11.  He leads a community garden.  He is in constant pursuit of experiential education, leaving soon for Hawaii with his girls for a 2-month internship at a sustainable, community-living center.

This morning, Paul appeared at our shop.  He deftly opened the front door while holding multiple mason jars, and sauntered in with his easy smile.  ”Good morning,” he said, as he greeted each of us by name and distributed the mason jars.  They were filled to the brim with fresh, cold juice he had made himself this morning – apple/carrot/beet (and a bunch of other life-affirming fruits and vegetables).  He met Jessica, our newest team member, and slipped back out to his car to get one more jar of juice for her.  Then, he quietly mentioned that he was going to clean our windows for us.  ”Paul,” I said, “you just brought us beautiful juice – isn’t that enough??”

But for people like Paul, who are few and incredibly far between, there is no “enough”.  Paul remembers that I gave him a dehydrator some time ago for his raw food/juicing business venture.  Paul remembers that I once cared for his daughter when she was ill and I was still practicing medicine.  Paul remembers that we gave him some soap a few months back. And, Paul, as if he has somehow traveled though cultures and centuries to land in our little town, knows what it means to be part of a community.

Now, as I sit looking out my crystal clear storefront windows, my belly pleasantly full of juice, I realize I am in awe of Paul.

He moves with grace and kindness through his days.  He seems to emanate actual vibrations of peace.   He lights up like a disco ball when he talks about his children. He is a teacher and a student at all times.  He speaks of compassion and giving, and supports his words with his actions.  He grows his own food, shares it with others, and has what seems to be boundless energy for nurturing those around him. When he laughs, it comes from somewhere around his knees, and spreads up through his chest and shoulders to his face.  He never seems to be in a hurry, and holds your eyes while he speaks with you. He somehow makes you breathe more deeply and easily just by being in the room.  He lives a modest life, and may not be a billionaire just yet.  But he is clearly one of the richest men I know.

So, thank you, Paul.  For the juice.  For the clean windows.  For planting seeds of peace and graciousness and joy and gratitude in the soil of this little town.  For reminding us what kind of person makes the world better.  In short, for being – and sharing – YOU.

Much love from all of us at Osmia.

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Your gift of beautiful and perceptive prose brightens me tonight. Thankyou for taking the time. I love the lines: “as if he has traveled through cultures and centuries,” “He lights up like a disco ball when he talks about his children,” “sauntered in with an easy smile.”
I’m feeling extra rich tonight.

Paul Black on July 09, 2014