Last week, I was presented with an interesting assignment: give something to a complete stranger. I loved the idea! Little did I know how difficult I would actually find it…
I gleefully pondered the many wonderful things I could bestow upon a stranger. I could buy someone a coffee or hand a child a large, coloured lollipop. I could pay for someone’s parking or help an elderly person across the street. I could saunter up to a solitary diner in a café and present them with a beautiful lemon cupcake. I could purchase a bus ticket for the person behind me in the queue.
But I repeatedly talked myself out of each idea. They’ll think I’m crazy. My motives will be questioned. It’s easier to just look after myself. I marvelled at my own hesitation.
Three days later, I still hadn’t completed my mission, and I was having a pretty horrible week. Money worries, strife with a loved one, and a serious dose of PMS. I was hardly in any form to accomplish this random act of kindness.
Today, after a triathlon of tears, free-flow writing and meditation, I dragged myself out the door. And someone from a passing car fired an egg at me! Its insides dribbled across my runners. I wanted to cry.
I considered going home immediately as I silently wailed: Who would want to make someone cry? Then, I wondered: Was the energy I was giving off attracting all this negativity? The car had long gone and I hadn’t reacted. I sent the goon with the great aim some loving thoughts, took a deep breath, and made up my mind to be strong and turn things around. It was now or never.
I popped into a shop and bought a Cornetto. A man wearing sunglasses walked my way.
I tried: “Hi. Can I give you an ice cream?”
“I don’t want it,” he muttered as he side-stepped me.
I felt bad but I recognised his scepticism towards my altruism, and moved on. A few others approached me.
“Would anyone like a Cornetto?” I ventured.
“Why?” asked an elderly lady.
“Because I’d like to give this to someone.”
She took it and queried,” How much do you want for it?”
“Nothing,” I answered. “I just wanted to give it to someone.”
With that, she beamed and said: “Thank you. That’s very kind.”
I walked home with a renewed light in my eyes and a smile on my lips. As I neared my flat, a young boy grinned at me and bellowed, “Hi!” The negative energy I had been wallowing in melted away in this child’s generous greeting.
This once-assumed easy task taught me a lot. It showed me that I still care what people think of me. It confirmed that what we’re thinking about the world will be perfectly mirrored back to us. I realised how suspicious people can be of simple acts of kindness but that is merely because these acts are so rare. When you do something with a pure heart, the self-protective barriers will subside, and the results will be extremely rewarding for both giver and receiver.
Now, I have an assignment for you, my lovely readers. Give something to a complete stranger. Take note of what happens and be aware of how you’re thinking and feeling before, during and after the act. It will teach you some valuable lessons and it will make a lucky stranger’s day.
"The universe is exactly the way we think it is and that's why." John Woods
Featured image: Painting by Pamela Cisneros