When was the last time you randomly held the door open for someone? Asked someone struggling in the parking lot if they could use just a minute of your time to help them load some rather heavy object into their trunk? Smiled at the person who is sitting across from you at the doctor’s office rather than avert your eyes and hope they do the same? We live in this world that is so interconnected with electronic devices and random communication via a few words that we’ve forgotten that actual people are among us. Those struggling to get through their days, hoping not to fall too far behind in the race to be first, or best, or number one! It’s not about money or what you have sitting in your house to offer, but what can you do to make someone else’s day simpler for a short period of time.
Random acts of kindness can carry forward. They affect not only the person who is accepting your help, but maybe they offer some assistance to the next person. It’s like going to Starbuck’s and finding out that the person in front of you paid for your coffee. Do you then pay for the person behind you? Sure your not really getting anything free, but maybe the person behind you could benefit from not having spent that $5 on their Chai Latte! That same $5 goes to pay for something else?
I know a lovely woman who reminded me of something several years back. I was having a rough day and had pasted something truly heartfelt on Facebook. It was just reminder to the world that I missed some friends and wanted them to be remembered on that day. In the simplest reply possible she wrote that she “always remembered me on that day, even thought we hadn’t seen each other in years.” It made all the difference in the rest of my day. Plenty of people had no idea what I was referring to, nor should they have. But this woman I’ve known for years said she thought of me on that day.
I’m not saying that you race up to every person you see, that might get you a polite conversation with the local law enforcement official wondering about the state of any medication you are taking. But simply crossing the parking lot to lift a bag? Anyone can do that. But how many times have you felt better seeing the smiling face of any other person when you are just hurting so badly inside that you are screaming for understanding? Again, no random hugging of people, that might get you an offer of a car ride from that same slightly more stern law enforcement official!
One of the hardest things for someone suffering from any type of depression is to make those offers of help. The first thought is that you are going to be spurned in your effort. Add in that you already think that everyone is staring at you, that they know you are feeling different from the rest of the crowd. (the ex didn’t understand why I would sometimes wear a Red Sox jersey while on vacation. It was so that I didn’t feel so weird, that it was okay when some person honked the horn because they too were a fan. A common interest that made me feel less of an outcast!) Do you know what happens to me when someone smiles in my general direction? I hold onto that for as long as possible, praying that I returned that kindness without looking insane. Something so simple, yet it changes everything.
So go out into the world and do something simple, smile at someone. Let the mother with the small child cut in front of you even though you may be in a rush to get out of the store. Take the time to make a difference in someone’s world, I promise it helps take away the weight of the world, for even a minute. It’s worth it!
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Community Service.”