Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Random Acts of Kindness, and other matters

Do you ever ask yourself what you are doing and why you are doing it? Now, come on, that isn't necessarily a dumb question!  I was writing away on my NaNo novel this morning when I heard a ding! that signaled a new email.  It was time for a break, so I put my novel on "sleep" and went to my email.  An internet friend from Montana had sent me a story about Root Beer and Twinkies.  I'll try to be brief.

A little boy decided he wanted to talk to God, so he packed up some Root Beer and Twinkies and went on his way.  He stopped in a park, and saw an old man sitting on a bench.  He went over and sat besides him.  The boy was thirsty so he took out a root beer, but then thought the old man looked thirsty, so he gave one to him.  Then he was hungry, so he gave one of his twinkies to the old man.  When he got up to leave, he gave the old man a hug, and got a big smile in return.  Other than that, not a word had been spoken between them.

When the little boy returned home, he told his mother he had lunch with God, and He had the most beautiful smile in the world.  When the old man returned home, he told his son he had lunch with God, and He was a lot younger than he thought He would be.

Random acts of kindness...what a difference such a small thing meant to this child and this old man.  Do you ever think about a random act of kindness that someone has done for or given to you?  Do you ever stop and wonder if anything you've done or said lately is a random act of kindness?

A couple of days ago, I sent an email to another Internet friend who had just lost her mother-in-law, to whom she was very close.  I had also found out that she and her husband were going through several other very bad issues that had popped up unexpectedly.  I sent her a message because I was concerned about her, yet when she responded, she made me feel like I had suddenly given her a million dollars.  A random act of kindness?  Possibly, except it certainly wasn't random on my part because I was thinking about her.

What makes an act of kindnes random?  My message to my friend was deliberate on one hand, and random on the other...random in this case being I hadn't given it a lot of thought.  Her name came to mind, I realized I hadn't seen her around on our writers forum, so I wondered if she was doing all right  since her MIL's death, and I wrote to her.  Would that be considered a "random" act? Or not?

It concerns me greatly that we hear and see in the media every single day about random acts of violence...but how many times do the media carry on about someone's random act of kindness?  Why is that?  Is it that we as a nation, or as a society, have become so inured to violence that it no longer makes an impression, and since we have little media coverage of acts of kindness or of good things happening, they also don't make an impression?

What are the things that matter to us?  Oh, I know, people are going to say...friends, family, church...not necessarily in that order.  But what else?  I don't mean the mundane things like a roof over our heads, food on the table, money coming in, a decent job.  Although today, all of those things are a top priority.

But what else matters?  My husband and I went for a walk yesterday.  We held hands, which we been doing practically since the day we met, some 35 years ago.  We're "senior citizens" so when some young teens walked towards us, they looked pointedly at our hands, our faces, and then...smiled at us.  I wonder what they were thinking...that it was strange that "old people" would be holding hands?  that they hoped when they were our age they had someone to hold hands with?  I don't know, but I hope it was the latter.

So what random acts of kindness have you received lately?  A get-well card from someone unexpectedly?  My husband did.  An email or phone call to see how you're doing, for no particular reason?  That would be well and good.  But the main thing is, what have you done that could be construed as a random act of kindness?

How much time do we spend even thinking about things like this?  As writers, especially, our time is already consumed by writing, editing, revising, sending out queries, doing research...to say nothing of eating, sleeping, house work, taking care of kids and spouses...and life in general.  So time for random acts of anything is precious.

But it only takes a minute...you don't have to bake an extra turkey or a new batch of cookies to take to someone.  How about a smile on the street as you pass an older person waiting for a bus?  How about helping that young mother cross the street with a baby stroller and maybe one or two other kids in tow?  How about giving a hand to the disabled man trying to put groceries from the cart into the trunk of his car?  How about offering your arm to someone walking up or down a hill and trying to keep stable with a cane or a walker?  How about holding the door open for someone in a wheelchair?

Random acts of kindness:  let's try to make them more often, more important, and more newsworthy, than random acts of violence.

Remember:  it only takes a moment.

Until later,
That's a wrap.