Friday, March 11, 2016

One Good Deed

When we think of paying it forward, or performing some random act of kindness, we usually think of giving to people less fortunate than ourselves. Maybe they are obviously homeless, down on their luck, holding a sign saying “Hungry” or “anything helps.” And this makes sense. These are the people that need our help, that need to have a nice thing happen to them to make their day a little easier, or to leave them with a little hope for humanity and the future.

Today, during a busy workday, I decided to stop at the corner Starbucks to grab a latte. I was feeling a bit run down from running for the last month and a half on just about empty. My low fuel warning light had definitely come on. You see, late January they found a large mass in my partner’s chest. A thymoma the size of his hand. As you can imagine, or perhaps you know if you’ve been in a similar situation, this type of thing can really take its toll on you. You don’t have to be the actual victim to experience the fear, the stress and the fatigue of trying to keep it all together. The last two months have been an emotional and challenging juggling act of fear, apprehension, gratitude, anger, appreciation, love, frustration, and hope.

And as it turns out, after almost two months of worry and angst, tears and ah ha moments, and not knowing what the prognosis would be, surgery proved successful. The road to wellness is looking to be paved with positivity. What I’m trying to tell you, is that even though my signs of wear and tear might not be overly visible to those around me, I am feeling extra tired, a little beat up. It can catch up with you when you take on the added roles of therapist, spiritual advisor, caregiver, motivator, chauffeur, personal assistant, and pick me-upper, all while trying to continue with your own life as usual.

So today as I stood in line at Starbucks (yes, I got a bit sidetracked, but now I’m back at Starbucks) I glanced at the woman behind me and gave her a smile. She smiled back. When I got to the front of the line and placed my order, a latte and a package of madeleine’s, she handed me a Starbucks gift card and said that she was performing a random act of kindness, and today, the kindness was for me.

I was taken aback. I mean, really. I had my wallet out. I don’t need the money. These things are usually done for people less fortunate and I immediately thought, “Do I look like I need help?” As I stammered a bit, expressed my surprise and thanked her, she told me I was worth it, that I deserved it. And it hit me again, that whole self-worth thing, and why we, especially women, have a hard time accepting gifts. Or compliments. Or simple random acts of kindness.

Donna, I want to thank you again. Not only for making my day one to remember and my delicious latte and cookies, but, for reminding me how a simple act of kindness, that human connection, the art of giving, can have such a profound affect on us. Both for the giver and receiver. And also, reminding me not to make assumptions about one’s life based on appearances only. Most of us don’t wear our pain, our hurt, our exhaustion, on the outside. But we all have it. At one time or another. And it feels really good when someone, whether you already know them or they start out as a stranger, takes a moment to connect, and unconditionally buys you a cup of coffee.

There is no application, no qualifications, no special criteria necessary where love and kindness are concerned. They are equal opportunity employers. I plan to remember that and return the favor, reserving my judgement as to who might need it most. Because none of us have any idea what the other  has been going through and kindness need not be reserved for those whose hardships are obviously evident. We've all heard that it's better to give than to receive, but whether we are the giver or the recipient of random acts of kindness, we all benefit.