Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Don't Give Up!: A True Story

I recently had an idea for a large scale, random act of kindness project. I bought a handful of flashcards and wrote inspirational messages on them to be distributed to strangers. I am an avid runner and at first I would run with the flashcards and fling them into the air letting my messages flow with the wind to their destined targets. I later decided to personally give the flashcards out, in public, to people who looked like they needed them.

My project produced amazing results! I got a lot of positive responses, mainly in the form of a smile or a “thank you”, and people seemed genuinely touched by my efforts. Some did not and refused to accept the flashcards. One lady, who I gave a flashcard that read “:) SMILE! :)” responded “Smile? WHY??” in a very cynical way. I continued walking as I realized she clearly needed that specific message.

One day, as I walk through the park, I see a Jamaican man sitting on a bench. He is on the phone and looks up in despair as I walk by. I had located my next target. I casually stroll around the park again until I came back to the man on the bench. He is off the phone now and has a distant look in his eyes. Clearly lost in his thoughts, I approach the man and hand him a flashcard that read “Don’t give up!” He took the card and froze. “Thank you” he stammered. I smile and continued walking. I knew that one had found its mark.

As I walk along, I think about what I had done. It fills me up with happiness because I know that my little kindness really impacted the Jamaican man and many others in a positive way. God only knows how far that can travel.

About a week later I was jogging through the neighborhood (I am in New York now). I wasn’t in a particularly great mood and jogging usually lifts my Spirits… Not this time! Even as I jogged, my fears and personal issues occupied my mind. I was irritable and anxious and very impatient for what the next positive thing life had to offer. I kept going as my pump-up song started to play on my ipod. My jog turns into fast run as I sprint down one of the busiest streets. In the distance, I see an old man distributing flyers. I am fast approaching and I know he will offer me one as I fly by. “Hell no, I don’t want one,” I thought.

Sure enough, as I run closer to the old man he stretches out his arm and offers me a leaflet. Time had slowed at this point. At first I ignore the flyer and my body language strongly says so. Then, in a split second, I change my mind and furiously grab the flyer as I bolt past him. I continue running as I looked down to quickly glance at the flyer, having every intention of crumpling it up and throwing it in the face of the next passerby.

I looked down and my knees buckle. In bold letters the flyer read:


My attitude quickly changes. I smile and eventually start to laugh. I guess my random act of kindness really did travel far.


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