I’ve been thinking about kindess lately.
A coworker was telling me about how she worked at a drive-thru and someone decided to pay for the person behind them. Then that person so moved by the gesture decided to pay for the person behind them too. It kept going. People just kept paying for each other. After about 10 cars a woman who had her large meal paid for by someone, who had ordered far less than her, asked how much the person behind her had ordered. Even though it was a great deal less than what she would have paid she still didn’t offer to pay. The chain had ended. It made me so mad hearing that story. This person had ruined this beautiful thing. They had ruined it.
I’ve always wanted to pay for someone’s bridge toll on Christmas. Every year I cross the bridge on the way to my family’s house. On my way home I’m full of so much joy and love from spending the day with my family I always want to pass some of that on. But every year I get to the tollbooth and I can’t seem to do it. I start worrying. I get afraid the person behind me won’t appreciate it. Maybe they have a lot of money and I’m just helping someone out who doesn’t need it. The anxiety over it all stops me from doing it every year.
The same night my coworker told me the story about the drive-thru I was leaving work and saw this girl in the parking garage having trouble getting out of her space because someone had partially blocked her in. She pulled back into the space to let me pass and I could have just driven off. But I kept looking back behind me watching her struggle. I jumped out and helped guide her out of the space. She kept thanking me and I kept trying to downplay it like it was no big deal. Because isn’t it what anyone would do? But then I thought about it and I realized no, its not what most people would do.
And I know why I had to. I’ve spent a lifetime watching my dad do things for people without a second thought. Stopping on the I-5 on the way home from Disneyland to see if a family stranded on the side of the road needed help. Letting them use his phone. Stopping to get out of his car to remove a huge piece of debris from the road that someone might have run over. Helping people move and carry things. Dressing up like a bunny on Easter and going around town singing to people and handing out candy. Its second nature to him. He never stops to think about whether the person who will benefit deserves it.
That’s the true nature of kindness and love. Its all about the act. Not about the response to the act or the person who will benefit. It’s hard when you do things for others and don’t get any sort of thank you. Its hard to feel like you’re going out of your way to do things for someone who would never do the same for someone else. But at the end of the day I just want to do good things. I want to be ok with not getting a thank you. Because its not the point of why I want to do these things. Its because my heart is too full. I don’t feel whole or complete unless I’m helping someone. I need to be ok with knowing that someone may break the chain. That I may start or participate in something beautiful and maybe someone will crush it. But its ok because I’ll be starting something else. I’ll have multiple chains going. And I’ll know that the love and kidness shared even with a few people will not be lost on us. We’ll keep it going. Love will never be lost on me.