We had the best Valentine’s Day.
A few weeks ago Brice Royer got in touch with us. You may very well have seen Brice in the news over the past year. He first attracted attention when he posted an ad on Craigslist offering unconditional love for zero dollars. The ad was inspired by his doctor’s advice when talking to Brice about his stomach cancer diagnosis: he said feeling loved was the world’s best medicine. Over one million people read the post over the first three days it was live. One of those people was Francesca Murray, who offered to cook for Brice. When he found out she was living in a shelter with her daughter, though, he instead bought her groceries for numerous meals, and launched a successful fundraising campaign to build a tiny house for the mother and daughter.
Brice contacted us wanting to spread random acts of kindness to more people’s lives: throughout Valentine’s day various customers at Pomme had items from their shopping baskets purchased for them by Brice, with funds he and Pomme provided. It was so lovely!! We feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to meet Brice and receive so many warm, wonderful hugs from this amazing human being.
And as if all that weren’t enough, Brice found some time and energy for a brief interview. We hope you enjoy his words as much as we do.
Brice, we were so excited when you got in touch with us. Food has been quite a constant theme throughout your acts of kindness. Could you talk a little about the role food has played in connecting with others?
I love food. But if we had a relationship on Facebook, our status would be "It's complicated."! I had many food intolerances and I mostly ate carrots. Carrots saved me! I depended on carrots too long and eventually, my body became sick of eating them. So we had to be separated. It was mostly my fault though, not the carrots. I needed to heal myself more. Now that my digestion is a bit better, I eat carrots… sometimes. That's why I have a complicated relationship with carrots!
But I realized it's not just the food. It's also how it's grown, where it's stored, how it's cooked, how you eat it, and the company you have during lunch... It's all about good energy!
How long did you spend writing your Craigslist Post? Was it something you spent days or weeks working on, or did it all come together at once?
It was on the spur of the moment. My doctor told me that love and kindness is the world’s best medicine. But here’s the problem: I can't buy love and kindness at the pharmacy! Since I can't buy love, I thought, maybe I could give it away without expecting anything in return. So I gave myself a one year challenge to experience random acts of kindness to see if it would heal my depression and loneliness from cancer. I started by inviting strangers for lunch almost every day to share stories and keep each other company. I didn’t have much but it was so rewarding. Then I wanted to share it online to more people. I thought: "What could I give that's priceless?" Unconditional love, of course! ... For $0. It's the only thing money cannot buy. I began writing what was in my heart and I was surprised at what came out. I learned something surprising. I thought I should help the most needy like the homeless, but everyone needs unconditional love. It's actually harder to be loved if you’re wealthy, physically attractive, healthy and successful. Why? Because you’ll attract people who like you because of what you can do for them. Once that’s gone, they’re gone too. So unconditional love is for everyone and it should be freely given. That is partly why I wrote my ad.
You’ve lived all over the world; in many ways you’re a truly international citizen. Could you share your perspective on life in Vancouver and the West Coast of Canada?
I was born in France from a French/Vietnamese father and an Ethiopian mother and I grew up in 7 countries before the age of 18. When people asked me "Where are you from?" I didn't know how to respond. So I asked my mom and she said "You're from heaven!". I guess I'm still looking for home. But what does it mean to feel home and to belong? For me, what makes Vancouver beautiful isn't only the mountains, beaches and the nature, but it's also having a community of people who love and care about you.
How has, or has, your idea love and health evolved since your initial decision to commitment to kindness?
At my worst, years ago I was in a wheelchair, bedridden, unable to speak or do much. Today I am walking, talking, I sleep better, and I feel happier and less lonely. I still have bad days, but my doctor was right, love is truly powerful medicine. Without feeling loved and cared for, I don't think I would be alive today. I give credit to everyone who has given me unconditional kindness, including the kind staff and new friends at Pomme Market. Alone I can't do anything, but together, nothing is impossible. I think we can all heal each other one kindness act at a time.
I want to express my gratitude to my family, friends and kind strangers. Without them, I wouldn’t be alive today. Ruso Llanera, a volunteer caregiver who became a soul brother to me. Amrita Dhanji, who kindly offered me acupuncture without needles and a space to heal. Dr. Elene Sinori and Kate Hutchinson who are helping me with my food intolerances. My soul family and friends Carlos & Michaela (who works at Pomme!), Nicole, Leslie, Lydia, Miel, Zamir, Zubin, Raamayan, and Peter for visiting me lately. And of course, thank you Pomme Market for your love and kindness!