On line at a Starbucks drive-thru last week, I found myself trying to catch a glimpse of the man driving the grey truck in front of me. "Why isn't he moving?" I lamented, as I strained to see him in his side view mirror, as if my staring him down would make a difference. He already had his drinks, and morning coffee rush hour is no time for chit chatting. At 7 a.m. I was already a tangled ball of stress with the pressures of the day mounting. Finally he pulls forward, enabling me to extend my payment to the girl in the window. With a brilliant smile, she handed me my coffee and said, "You're all set. The man in front of you just took care of it." Her smile was infectious, and although she was just the conduit for the random act of kindness, she was clearly affected by it. I was instantly flooded with mixed emotions, first surprise, then joy, then sadness. Tears began to fill my eyes. I felt bad about the fact I was getting annoyed that he was taking so long. But mostly I felt thankful.
Living only a few miles from the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, random acts of kindness permeated the community in the aftermath. These small gestures of humanity enabled the giver, the receiver and the onlooker to feel good about something. You couldn't help but feel the positive energy in the atmosphere. Fast forward nine months; random acts of kindness are no longer a trending topic and the atmosphere is once again nondescript. I will never forget that December day, not only because of the horrific tragedy that affected so many of my family and friends, but also because that was the day I found a painted pine cone on my desk. It stood upright, bright holiday green with glittered edges resembling a Christmas tree. Attached to it was a sticky note that simply said "For you --Sophia." In that moment, I was moved by a pine cone in a way that the reproductive organ of a tree should never affect a person! To me, that simple act of unmotivated kindness was the ultimate expression of humanity.
So to that man in the grey truck, you proved to me that the spirit of "random acts of kindness" was still alive and well, and I want you to know that simple cup of coffee instantly unraveled that ball of stress I had already wound myself up into that morning and reassured me that right there, in that moment of time, everything was OK. My tears were those of gratitude for that. I think the phrase "random acts of kindness" should become "perpetual acts of kindness" -- kind acts that aren't inspired by tragedy, but rather the human spirit. Acts that aren't limited in number, but rather a continuum of the way we live. Let's model more of this in our lives. Who's in?
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