Sunday, August 14, 2011

Giving Books and Saving Worms

A few years ago I was eating breakfast at a diner with my friend Dawn when the waitress came up to us and said the man sitting in the next booth had paid for our breakfasts. We wanted to thank him, but he was already out the door and getting into his car. So we gave him an appreciative wave from the window and he responded with a nod and smile before driving away.

We asked the waitress what precipitated his kindness and we found out this man came to the diner a few times a week and always picks someone to pay for their meal. "He does it because he wants to do one good deed a day without asking anything in return," she told us. "So paying for someone's breakfast is his way of getting that done for the day."

At first, I was a little disappointed by her explanation. I kind of hoped the guy was doing it as a way to break the ice and ask one of us out--preferably me. But then I realized his good deed strategy was ingenious. I firmly believe in karma, and what better way to build a good karma bank account then to simply do one good deed a day?

I'm too cheap to pay for someone's breakfast every day, but of late I've been making a consientous effort to follow this guy's daily mission. If I'm sitting at a traffic light and a homeless person is standing there, I'll give them a few bucks. When I see a couple kids sitting on the street selling lemonade, I turn around to buy a drink even if it's that crappy powdered mix stuff. For a buck, I just reinforced a child's work ethic.

Lately I've been wondering what to do with all my books. So when a friend confides in me with an issue, I think of a book on my shelf that might help with her problem. It's so much nicer than just dropping them a bunch of books at Goodwill.

Sometimes a deed is a no brainer, like sending a birthday ecard to a friend. Now that I've been walking almost every day, I've taken to saving the lives of worms. That's right. There's this stretch of a worm grave yard on the trail I walk and there's always one worm squirming on the tar--just barely alive. I pick the worm up gently and throw it into the moist grass. I feel proud that my small act gave one living creative on this planet a second chance. I'd like to do more, but its a start.

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