Just do it!
Just do it!
February 7, 2013
“Well, things have been a little slow in the Acts of Kindness area. We definitely need something inspiring or even an opportunity to do some sort of kindness.” Those were my thoughts this morning as I headed off to the gym.
I have sort of a routine during the week when possible. My friends know that this annoys me, the whole routine thing, but I have my youngest son home with me this year, and he thrives on routine, so routine it is!! One of the things that he and I do together when we go to the gym is a 30 minute cardio activity. I get him set up on a stationary bike and I usually run on the treadmill. Due to some of my son’s difficulties, navigating the gym is challenging for him. He wears sunglasses, headphones, and clings to my arm as we make our way to the cardio area. Our main obstacle is the stairs. There is an elevator in the gym, and we usually take that on our way down, but over time we’ve added going UP the stairs to our routine. It’s kind of a process. I hold all our stuff and he holds on to the railing with one hand and my arm with the other. I have to walk directly next to him so we essentially take up the entire staircase. We take the stairs slowly, one step at a time. We go at a time that isn’t too crowded, and almost without exception people can see that we need an extra moment or two and are usually very polite. I try to smile brightly and distract my son a bit so that we can get up the stairs with a minimum of fuss. My son doesn’t seem to notice, but our ascent does attract a bit of notice.
Today our climb went fairly smoothly and we were nearing the top of the stairs. A woman started to come down but noticed that we needed the space so waited at the top until we had safely passed. I smiled at her and said thank you. And then she did something that has stayed with me all day. She simply put her hand gently on my shoulder and gave me a warm smile. No words were necessary.
Some days a warm smile and a gentle touch are the biggest kindnesses of all. It was wonderful to be on the receiving end of kindness today, and it helped me realize that sometimes our actions don’t need to be grand. They just need to be sincere and from the heart.
Now THIS is an interesting development! Turns out that finding Acts of Kindness is not as easy as one would think. When we started this project we kind of thought that we would stumble across ways to show kindness without it being a big deal. And that has been true to a certain extent. We all are kind, usually polite, and fairly courteous (OK, let’s leave the whole driving issue out of it…;)) and yet we’ve had trouble pinpointing things that happen during the course of a normal day as real “Acts”. I mean, is it an act of kindness to let someone go in front of you in the grocery store line? Is it an act of kindness to listen patiently as somebody talks your ear off about something important to them, but not so much to you, especially when you have a million things to do? And what about the concept of paying it forward?
We were out this weekend doing what we do. Think errands, shopping, lunch…. with lots of chatting and laughing thrown in. We crack each other up regularly and this particular day was no exception. We were having a great day and as our conversations often do, started at “A”, zigzagged wildly to “Z”, and then came back around again to “A.” During the course of this process our kindness project came up and we were excited about all being together and possibly finding some Act of Kindness to do together. But it was weird…nothing really jumped out at us as something that would truly be considered an Act of Kindness. So we decided we would do the next best thing. The act of Paying it Forward. It was kind of exciting really. We were in the drive-thru at Starbucks (big surprise) and we decided that we would pay for the people in the car behind us. We pulled up and explained to the barista what we were doing and about our project. She was so enthusiastic about it, which made it even more fun for us. It turned out that the order was a small one, but it did still feel like just the idea of surprising someone like that out of the blue was a good one.
So I’m left to wonder, are we going to need to plan some service projects in order to complete the 50 Acts? Our intention at the beginning was to find small, everyday things that would add drops of kindness into everyday life. We do have the whole year to see how this develops. So maybe between some random Acts, some planned Acts, and some plain old Paying it Forward type things we’ll end up with a year that just might create those ripples of kindness we were hoping for.