Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

Posts Tagged ‘pay it forward’

Sunday musings 5/1/16

Sunday musings…

1) Birthday 1. Happy 79th Birthday to my Mom. What a great visit last week!

2) Birthday 2. Happy 80th Birthday to my MIL Sandy. When do we get to see you next?

3) Birthday 3. Happy 49th Birthday to my youngest sister, Kerstin. I certainly hope this next year goes easier for you than it did for me. “Turning 50” was terrible.

Maybe just start celebrating anniversaries of your first 49th?

4) Elegance. “Elegance is refusal.” –Diana Vreeland.

I have absolutely no idea what that means.

5) Small. “Bit players don’t feel like bit players in their own lives.” –Richard Russo

Oh man…how good is that? Every life is just huge if it’s you who is living it. Every story suffers or soars depending on the frame of reference of the author. The eyes and ears of the storyteller only catch so much, and some of what is seen or heard never makes it past the “bit player” level in the story that is eventually told. This is what Russo refers to.

There are short stories, but there are no small stories. There are quiet lives lived with little or no acclaim, but there are no small lives. There are people who move as if shadows among giants, but there are no small people.

6) Forward. The whole “pay it forward” thing–you know, buy the guy behind you in line a fancy coffee thing–has always mystified me. The first one in the daisy chain, first one to do that random act of kindness, buy it behind? That I get. That’s the person who gets the karmic boost as far as I can see. Admit it, if you’re downstream from that guy/gal and someone just upstream from you gave you a boost, you’re doing it for the next person out of guilt or obligation. Nothing random about that at all.

Think about that first in, plant the flag opportunity though. The real, spontaneous, random and hopefully anonymous gesture given either in thanks for blessings unknown or as a giant middle finger to a cruel and uncaring world. Here is the tiny seed of true kindness. There’s a visceral pleasure involved when you pull it off, be the first, and get away with it. Especially if there’s no way for the recipient to just tumble down the daisy chain by passing it along, and even better if you pull it off anonymously.

Heck, sometimes it doesn’t involve a penny exchanged in commerce. Perhaps someone is in need of an answer, and you just happen to have it. Or an ear offered in a “judgement-free zone”, one in which you have zero personal gain on the line. Those are awfully cool, too.

My bid? Don’t feel obligated to do any type of “pay it forward” every time it may come up, and don’t feel any sense of failure if you miss even an easy no-brainer. Whether you picked up a check for a young dad out with his toddlers and giving Mom a break, or put down your newspaper when your seat mate on the plane asked a question, do give yourself a tiny pat on the back and allow yourself a little smile of satisfaction.

The only payback for paying it forward is personal. And that’s OK.

I’ll see you next week…