Okay, I never saw the movie “Pay It Forward”. I knew it had the kid from that movie where he sees dead people. I am unfortunately, one of those unremarkable people who don’t watch movies or television very much. I actually watch a lot of youtube, and my favorite youtube thus far is still that faboo guy who danced to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” video.
I did watch Amelie and I think it might’ve had the same premise: Do Something Good For Someone Else. Just do it. Just be nice. Be kind. Be generous. To… a stranger. Enjoy the fact that you’ve made the world a better place. Repeat.
A friend of mine introduced me to the concept of “random acts of kindness“. (God, I loved this man!) Whenever we were together, he would do things like: buy a drink for the homeless guy on the corner, help change a tire, give strangers rides if they looked tired and had a bunch of bags. With him, everyday was an adventure! Everyday became, “What good thing can I do today?” “What good thing do I GET to do today?” I could see that It became easier to see when people needed a helping hand.
But I was different. I myself, avert my eyes when I drive by homeless people. I turn up my nose and walk fast on streets marked with urine. I do what I do, and I stick to my schedule. No-time-sorry-I-don’t-have-any-money-maybe-later-next-time-I-gotta-go-bye!
Today on this fine Saturday morning, I happened to be driving on my way to work. The sun was shining a pleasant 75 degrees. And oh yeah. In the right hand turn lane, there was a man convulsing.
Now when one sees that, one thinks, “Is that guy for real?” “Does he need help?” “It looks like he’ll be okay.” “Did he fall and is he just getting up?” “Maybe he dropped something.” “No, that looks bad.” “What the hell can I do?.” Most appalling: cars are slowing down- not to HELP him, mind you- but to drive AROUND him.
Wow. I ‘get’ to do something nice for someone!
All a blur.
And then, as he sat breathlessly on the curb, EMTs finally giving him the attention he needed… there was a moment when I was able to look at this guy straight in the eyes. He was asian, about 60 years old, had cataracts, and was dressed in imitation Tommy Hillfiger. He looked as if he was going for a walk to the grocery store. He could have very well been my dad.
Here I thought I was finally being a hero by helping him (yay! Karma points for me!), but in truth, that man was being a hero to me. In that brief moment, his fear and pain and subsequent recovery made me very aware of a person I had been ignoring for a bit.
Altruism is its own reward, they say. And it’s addictive, this feeling of giving and receiving positive energy. Today I gave a little bit of time and in return, I received a message.
I took that message and went to work. I went to a show. I went out for late-night eats. Then I came home… with a small maple-glazed donut with sprinkles. “Dad, want a donut?” My dad looked up from his computer, his eyes slowly lighting up with a surprised delight.
A donut. It was my first REAL random act of kindness for the day. And for tonight, it was enough. Tomorrow will be another adventure.