(At least one of these things can be harnessed and lavished upon others.)
I received an email asking me to take part in the Blog it Forward scheme, and – of course – I agreed without hesitation. It’s for a good cause after all. And then I had to choose my ‘kind deed’. And I have something to confess:
I was a bit…stuck.
I read through the suggested good turns, and I’m sorry to advise that none of them really floated my boat. I found them either too trite or twee, or something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. So I ruminated on it, as I like to do when something leaves me uncomfortable – I detest feeling weird about things and not knowing why. Far better to acknowledge the root of the issue and, if necessary, work on improving myself. (My husband thinks I over-analyse; personally, I think it’s a strength to be aware of your own faults and actively try to fix them.)
So, I went over the various options and forced myself to consider precisely what I was not feeling good about. And I came to a shocking and sad realisation…
In the society I am familiar with, kindness is often viewed with suspicion.
I know, right? But think about it for a moment; as a woman, if I tried to buy coffee for the guy behind me in the queue, would he be most likely to think a) this lady is very generous, or b) this lady wants to make rudies with me? Exactly.
Equally, if a random woman tried to buy me a coffee, I would totally be wondering ‘what’s the catch?’. I hate being beholden to anyone, so I’d thank my would-be benefactor and politely decline the offer.
With all that in mind, I was left feeling very anxious about how best to perform my random act of kindness. Should I go for something cop-out anonymous, whereby I could negate the risk of awkward rejection – but in doing so, also remove the possibility of any potential ‘moment’ between myself and the surprised recipient? Or, should I put myself out there and attempt to do something nice, just because (as far as they knew)?
This had just become a personal challenge! So, in the name of a good cause, I got out of my comfort zone.
My Random Act of Kindness
I thought of the lady I regularly see selling the The Big Issue and I went into the nearest cafe and bought her a coffee. I panicked when I was asked what drink I wanted. What if she’s not eaten, and like me, caffeine on an empty stomach will make her nauseous? Does she take sugar? Will she look at me with contempt because I haven’t asked her whether she’d prefer tea? Should I also buy her a cookie? Cake? Pastry? I settled on coffee and a fiver – so she could choose her own food (and replacement beverage if necessary).
In the end, I think she was simply grateful for the brief respite from the intense cold. She thanked me, it was completely fine. And I was acutely aware of a nagging thought in the back of my mind – a viewpoint my wise brother *grudging admission* recently presented. It’s actually very obvious, but a perspective I’d never really seen until it was pointed out to me…
Too often, this suspicious society thinks in terms of ‘mine’ and ‘earned’ and ‘deserved’. I was guilty of doing the same. However –
It’s mine only because I am fortunate enough to live in a country where it is available; it’s earned only because I am lucky enough to have been provided with the education and opportunities required to acquire a paying job. And I’m not certain it’s deserved at all; or if it is, it’s only because I am human, which means that those less privileged are equally deserving.
I also realised I wasn’t totally comfortable writing about a ‘good deed’ I had performed, as though I expected a virtual pat on the back in recognition of simply being a decent human being. That’s something we should all aspire to, and endeavour to deliver as a matter of course. So, for the sake of clarity: I’m doing this primarily for the benefit of the donation to Habitat for Humanity being made by Wayfair if I do this.
But on a personal level, the best thing about being approached to get involved with this fantastic project is that I’ve been made to think about how I can be a better person all of the time. Even if it’s a little unnatural or uncomfortable to begin with. It’s been quite a humbling experience.
The way I see it, the more kindness is around us, the more normalised it becomes – as it should be.
That’s the sort of world I want to raise my daughter in, and so I’ve made the decision to make small acts of kindness a new regular feature in my life. I hope you’ll join me.
And now all that remains is for me to nominate two blogger pals to get involved in this fab scheme: