Today I’ve decided to re-use the column I wrote for today’s newspaper. While it doesn’t have much to do with kids directly, it may provide some food for thought. Enjoy, and as always please feel free to leave feedback in the comments section. See the original here.
Every choice you make today has an impact on the life you wake up to tomorrow. This sounds like common sense, but how often do you think about the choices you don’t make? Indifference. Walking past the woman who drops her groceries, because you just don’t have time. Pocketing the $10 bill you see fall from an old man’s wallet, because he should have been more watchful. We’ve all been in scenarios like this at some point in time. A missed opportunity for something great.
I recently read an account of a Minneapolis-born cab driver named Kent Nerburn whose life was changed by one passenger. He arrived at the location of the call, which came in the middle of the night. Expecting a party-goer or someone headed to an early morning job, he honked. No one came out, so he approached the home and knocked on the door. A frail-looking elderly woman appeared, moving slowly from her disassembled living quarters. She asked kindly for him to take the long way to her destination, a hospice facility. She was in no hurry.
Nerburn spent the next few hours touring the streets of town at her instruction, pausing in front of several buildings that held special meaning to her from a time long past and covered in dust. When they finally came to rest at her destination, he wouldn’t accept payment for what was essentially the last, and most meaningful, trip of her life.
In his book, Make me an Instrument of Your Peace, Nerburn reflects on the event. “What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away? What if I had been in a foul mood and had refused to engage the woman in conversation? How many other moments like that had I missed or failed to grasp? We are so conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unawares … It was possible to believe that I had been placed on earth for the sole purpose of providing her with that last ride. I do not think that I have ever done anything in my life that was any more important.”
His decision, a seemingly simple choice to extend kindness to a stranger, changed his life.
Random Acts of Kindness Week is long past, but who’s to say we can’t do extraordinary things in our everyday lives? What could be gained by all of us choosing to do at least one unanswered deed each and every day? Scraping ice from the windows of someone’s vehicle, holding the door for a stranger, or paying for someone’s meal, and asking for nothing in return.
A friend of mine witnessed the power of “paying it forward” during her shift at a local restaurant. One restaurant patron paid for another’s meal. That person, not having to pay for their own, paid for someone else’s meal, and so on throughout the day. One act of kindness spurred several others to strive for good, when just as easily one person’s indifferent attitude could have ended that chain. In some small way all of those involved, be they participants or bystanders, were impacted by good.
How could our world be transformed if we all vowed to embrace that mindset? The choices we make may seem small to us, but the impact they have on others may be beyond anything we could expect. Think back to the man whose $10 bill is now in your pocket. What if that was all he had?
Even if it’s a small gesture, do something great today.