I was hesitating whether or not to post this. After all, the present was the ACT, not the writing a post about it. And I believe you’re not supposed to brag about the “good” stuff you do. Coincidentally, I also believe I should be able to write about what keeps me busy on my own blog. So here it goes.
Let’s start with a confession: I’m not a good commenter.
Most often, either of the following situations occur: 1) 10 people have commented before me, saying exactly what I was planning to say (including that witty joke), or 2) nobody has commented yet, and I’m too chicken to actually write something because, well, it might not be as funny as it sounds in my head and, I commented yesterday already, they might think I stalk them or feel obliged to start reading my stuff just because I read theirs. Or something along those lines.
So when Jane from They call me Jane came back after almost one month of absence, I almost didn’t say anything. 8945 people welcomed her back already, she wouldn’t care about my little shout out. Would she?
But see, Jane was one of the first blogs I subscribed to. She was one of the first to leave a comment here. Her birthday challenge was the first I participated in. And she’s just funny and smart and great. I wànted to welcome her back, regardless of whether she wanted to be welcomed back by me (does that make sense?). So I did. And I got myself in a mess :D.
See, it was her birthday 2 days later.
How that gets mé in a mess? Well, she challenged us. Me. She asked everyone who welcomed her back (and everyone else, for that matter) to pull a Random Act of Kindness that weekend, as a birthday present.
Now, this is a very strange concept to me. I mean, I’m kind and all, of course, I give to charity, I’m polite to strangers, I give up my seat on the bus to let older people sit, I help people when they have 3 big grocery bags and a buggy. I do that. Everybody does that. But when it comes to money, I’m not very comfortable with the whole RAOK-thing. I mean (imagining that I would own a car and there would be a drive-thru Starbucks here) I don’t think “that’s kind” would be the first thing that would pop my mind if somebody would ‘pay it forward’ for me. I would find it strange, and scary (what does this person want from me?), and I might even feel offended (do I look like I can’t afford a coffee?), only to conclude that probably, they must have thought I was someone else. However, it most certainly would never cross my mind to do that for somebody else (on a spontaneous basis).
I’m not too keen on giving stuff or money to beggars or homeless people either. Don’t get me wrong, I am such a devoted socialist I’m almost a communist, but I refuse to give anything to beggars. I will donate to organizations that work with homeless people, if I ever get the time and courage I might even volunteer with them (I should just DO that, I know – what can I say, there’s room for improvement), and I buy the newspaper they make and sell to support themselves. But I won’t give them anything directly. I am convinced (maybe wrongly, I admit) that our social security system is sufficiently broad so that people who need help, can get it when they want it. I need to believe this is true, because it is the basis of our society (or the ideal one in my head, at least). And giving them… anything, kinda messes up the system. To me.
Obviously, I could give something to someone. For once. After all, a birthday present is a good cause. But then I either needed to buy a car (to go to the drive-thru), or find a beggar. The first was… well, too expensive, and the second was not as easy as it sounds since there’s not so many beggars where I live. I think I have seen one a couple of weeks back… he could’ve just been a lonely old man though (although then again, that would be as good a RAOK-target as anyone else). But maybe I don’t see these people-in-need because I don’t get out. I get up, go to work, get home, read blogs, go to sleep, and repeat that cycle on a daily basis. I live a mile from work, out of the city – it’s a miracle if I see anyone on that walk. I see my colleagues, I go out shopping once every week or every other week. I simply don’t see that many people I could be kind to.
And then it struck me. I was making excuses. I was making excuses why I could not possibly be kind to people. Don’t wanna do this, don’t have the opportunity to do that, … . When did I become so lazy and self-absorbant? Whenever did “being kind” become such a task?
I had to work on Jane’s birthday weekend. I had a friend coming over the weekend after. Yes – I was making excuses again ;). But an idea grew – which was maybe not strictly a RAOK, since it wasn’t particularly random (very heavily planned, even), there was little acting involved and it was more nice than kind, but it was a gesture towards people I don’t know, to brighten up their day unexpectedly. And after all, that was the idea, right, to brighten up somebodies day?
So these were the accomplices I made to help me get Jane her present last weekend (note, carefully check how many you need to make and how much material you need for them, or you’ll be running back and forth to the shop a gazillion times) :
A whole army of Tomterna, Swedish Santa Clauses, were about to take over the apartment block. I didn’t want to take a picture when they were dangling from all door handles for fear of getting caught, so you’ll have to believe me on my word that it looked all kinds of merry!
Happy belated birthday, Jane – for fear of sounding like a cliché, I have the feeling you taught me more than I have given you. I’m sorry it took so long, but this is my present: I will be doing more of these.