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Monday, May 25, 2015

Giving Cookies to Strangers and other Random Acts of Kindnesses


I’m a broken woman.  At least when it comes to offering cookies to strangers.  I’m reading Deepak Chopra’s ‘The Future of God’.  OK, ok if I’m being TOTALLY honest I also MIGHT be reading a smutty romance about a half dragon, half human man who falls in love with an all human woman.  I’m reading these two books at the same time, depending on my mood and how much time I have.  How I switch back and forth between those two books is a mystery to me but I do, quite fluidly.  How I manage it with a 12 and a half month old, that is a minor miracle all on its own.

Anyhoo - I was just reading the section about giving.  (In the Chopra book, not the dragon romance book).  It was about giving without worrying about lack.  I thought about all the times I have held back from giving because I felt like I wouldn’t have enough for me.  I vowed to be more generous.  (This was yesterday).  Anyone who knows me might say, what a minute, hold the bus, you’re pretty generous.  Yeah, to people I KNOW, and LOVE.  That’s easy.  What’s hard is being open and generous to strangers.  So.  Today while we were having a picnic under a giant Oak tree (so Norman Rockwell of us, yes?) a little girl approached me.  (Well, approached Ellie) with her father trailing behind her, trying to get her to come back to him.  She toddled right up to me and smiled, waved, waved at Ellie.  She might have been three or maybe four.  So, in the spirit of giving, I offered her one of Ellie’s Arrowroot cookies.  There weren’t many left, and my initial hesitation was over a concern I wouldn’t have a cookie at a time of crisis.  This is a genuine concern, one borne from experience.  Nothing quiets Ellie like an arrowroot cookie.  From full melt-down to peaceful, blissful calm in seconds.  Ahhhh.  So offering the cookie was a big deal for me.  I guard those cookies with a ferocity that can only be equaled by a mamma bear with her cubs.  Grrrrrrr.  Stay.  Away.  From.  The.  Cookie.

So I offered this cute little girl a cookie (after asking dad first).  I immediately felt good.  I’m a good person.  So kind and generous.  Giving a little girl I don’t know a valuable cookie.  Good for me.  Then he told me, in broken English, that he had SIX kids….of course Universe, of course.  Three of his six kids then came running over, older than the little girl by quite a few years and not nearly as adorable.  I was at a fork in the road.  Offer them a cookie too or keep silent?  What kind of monster doesn’t offer the siblings a cookie!?  Well, me.  Except this time, I did, trying not to check the supply when they were done.

They left and I felt good.  I felt like God was laughing at me, but I felt good.  Then I thought, wow, I THOUGHT I was a good person, a generous person.  But it literally look a book about spirituality and a lot of second thought to OFFER COOKIES TO CHILDREN…what is WRONG with me!?  Either way there must be something broken inside when I don’t offer cookies to children.  Even children I don’t know.  Am I being too hard on myself!?  Maybe.

And then the thought occurred to me that baby Ellie is watching everything I do.  Wouldn’t it be nice if instead of watching me have a tantrum at the latest idiot to cut me off in traffic, she saw me doing something good?  Or, at least, that she ALSO sees me doing good deeds.  Let us be realistic, yes?  Even if those good acts are small, quiet gestures of good will.  I think that’s what makes the world go round, really.  Millions of people showing small acts of kindnesses, showing impulsive acts of mercy and compassion, a glimmer of generosity day in and day out.  It isn’t the grand gestures of billionaires that will change the world.  It’s the countless every-day people with a mind to make their corner of the world a little better, a little brighter.  THAT is what keeps the world from going to a million little pieces.  There’s a quote by Emerson I really like.

To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. 

I used to look around at what was happening all over the world and just felt totally useless.  There are so many problems, so many huge issues that need our help, attention, and money.  Where do we begin?  I have learned (I think) that we begin where we are.  I will never provide clean water for Africa or solve the AIDS epidemic or cure cancer.  But I CAN give cookies to kids who wander by.  I CAN give love, loyalty, and care to those children who wander into my sphere.  I CAN read to my little girl at night.  I can do these small things and trust their ripples will grow bigger than the acts themselves.  And if not, I’ve led a good and happy life along the way.  Who can ask for more than that?  Tristan can, that’s who.  Ah, Tristan, you half dragon, half human, all heart man you.  What a dreamer.