You know how you learned in high school science class that 90 percent of your brain is unused, laying waste, available but untapped? Well, I have long had a theory that as you get older, more and more of that space is taken up with things that come under the heading of Too Late to Ask. This is all the stuff you used to know, but evidently have forgotten. So these are the kind of questions you wind up asking yourself:
"Did they get divorced?"
"Is her mother dead yet?"
"Is there still a Yugoslavia?
""Did I sleep with you?"
Of course, the real problem with these questions that are Too Late to Ask is that the window of opportunity-without-embarrassment has long passed. There is no recourse! These questions will be rattling around in your head until the end of time!
So, feeling sort of bored one day recently, I played a mental parlor game with myself: I tried to think about some of the things I had considered might be Too Late to Ask of myself over the last few years:
Would I dare take a swim in the ocean on Thanksgiving?
Would I be a good mentor to a student?
Could I ride the Cyclone roller coaster at Coney Island?
Could I manage to do a good deed -- even a small one -- every day for a year?
The answers (Yes, So Far, No, and Yes) got me wondering whether other people had decided it was too late to be joining what I like to call the One Good Deed Revolution. People don't have to do something every day for a year, like I did. But there are loads of really easy things that you can do without writing a whole book. How about trying to do a good deed like one of these today:
Write a letter you should have written long ago.
Buy two, give one away.
Speak up when you hear hate.
Call a friend who needs a kind word.
Never pass a lemonade stand.
The last suggestion might seem to be a situation you don't run across that often, but I've decided it should be my new motto. It's one of my favorite things to do for a few reasons. Kids get so excited every time you stop that they sort of wiggle around with excitement, tell you the wrong price, and thank you profusely. How many times do you run across that in your daily transactions? Plus, it's their first attempt at business, with a money box and a little padlock key, a place to learn confidence and practice social skills. Not that they're aware of any of that, which is the swell part. It's just pure win.
But of course my motto doesn't have to mean a literal lemonade stand either -- it just means an opportunity to help. A person carrying too many packages. The guy on the bus without enough change for the fare. A stranger who looks lost on the street. Bottom line is it's never Too Late to Ask, or Too Late to Help. It's just never too late, period.
On Wednesday, October 10, help me kickstart the One Good Deed revolution - post an example of a good deed you've done here in the comments, or at http://www.onegooddeedbook.com.
Because it's never too late.
Follow Erin McHugh on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ErinHere