Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Meaning

What do you love? How do you seek it? And why do you love it in the first place?

This morning, I was on my way to work. I stopped at the 7-11 in Grandin to pick up Diet Cokes like I do every morning. As I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed an elderly man in a white and red cardigan, with reflective sunglasses, sporting a long white cane that he was using to sweep the ground in front of him. I got out of my car, grabbed my bank card, and as I approached the front of 7-11, so did he. He found the curb, stepped on it, and made his way away from the door. So I watched for a second, as he found a trashcan, and then I made my way to him.

As I reached the man, another person behind me called out, "Are you looking for the door?" but the blind man didn't hear. So I put my hand on his shoulder and he swung around. "Do you need any help, sir?" I asked. "Where is the door to the McDonald's?" "McDonald's?" I repeated just to be sure. "Oh no, not the McDonald's." He laughed. "I mean 7-11." I laughed with him. "It's right over here, sir." I linked my arm with his and slowly guided him towards the door, where the other helpful citizen stood, holding the door open. He said, "Thank you, young lady," and we parted ways.

I've done little things like this numerous times in my life. I bought a tube of lip gloss for a little girl in Bath and Body Works. I gave twenty bucks to two kids who I witnessed returning a lost cellphone they had found. I helped a broke, and possibly deranged, man who was living in a hotel. I've listened to people talk for hours about what pains them or about their ideas and notions they cannot keep locked away inside them anymore. I've given money to the homeless. I've held open doors, picked up dropped wallets, and let people pass me on the interstate.

I love making people happy. If I can't make the entire world happy forever, I would love to make one person feel slightly better than they had before I came along for at least a few minutes. You cannot predict when someone needs something; it just sort of happens. And a lot of the time, these people didn't even ask for any kindness to begin with. I just see someone that needs something, and I do what I can in that moment to help.

Why, though? Why do I love making people happy?
Is it for some selfish reason, that making others happy makes them like me more? Because I'll receive that little bit of validation when someone turns around to say thank you? Because I want that little pat on the head from my peers? Because my church and my bible and my God have told me so? Because karma exists, and I know I will be rewarded ten-fold down the road?

I think I do it simply because it's the right thing to do. And I believe that everyone should do it, regardless of his or her motivations. Kindness is a kindness, no matter what spawned it. And oh sure, if everyone did it "the world would be a happier, more beautiful place," but that's not why. I cannot change and improve the world, but I can improve me to help you, so we can change now.

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