I loathe Black Friday simply for the reason above. I think it’s very sad that at least one person every year is carelessly killed because they were trampled by greedy people who have been up since 3 AM and will do anything just to save $2 on an iPod or TV. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about saving money any way I can…but I draw the line on Black Friday. Not only am I not a morning person, I hate crowds and I hate greedy and grouchy people. I fear I may be on the endangered species list because I love to give far more than I love to receive. I do love receiving and it’s great when it happens and when it’s special…but the joy I get from giving far outweighs the joy I get from receiving. In my world, I see myself as quite selfish because I give to others so I can receive joy for myself…what I like to call my “warm fuzzies”…the things that make you feel all good and awesome inside.
If only we, as humans, ever realized the far-reaching affects we have on other people’s lives. I think we would truly be astounded if we ever knew. But the knowledge that we don’t know and probably never will know should be what keeps us going and keeps us in check. That’s at least how I prefer to look at it. Don’t do x because of it’s negative effect on countless people’s lives…even if it’s just a moment or thought. And on the flip side, do y because you don’t know what positive effect it will have on people. Think of it like “pay it forward.” Pay for someone’s coffee behind you in the drive-thru, because that person may do something amazing for someone else because you did something nice for them…and hopefully, the cycle continues. Even good things can come out of bad situations. You may have acted poorly in a particular situation but because of your reaction, someone else learned what to do and say in a better/more positive way because of what you did in a poor way.
During a night of insomnia, I caught a documentary about Abraham Lincoln on the National Geographic Channel at 4 AM. I don’t know if you know much about his pre-president life and how/why he wanted to be president. He was a good and honest man who wanted to do something good for his country…he just didn’t know how to go about doing it. Do you know what tipped the scales for him? The book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin“. The book, in short, is about a slave who was sold from a good owner to a cruel one. Upon finishing that book and the ensuing years of witnessing what slavery was doing to our country, Lincoln decided to make a difference by running for president. He even lost the first couple elections because of what he told the country he wanted to do should he obtain the position of president and people didn’t like it. Yes, he was actively trying to move mountains, but do you think he ever had a clue how he affected not just slavery, it’s abolishment and the Civil War…but all that came after that? He died before ever realizing the full impact he had on our nation then and even now. Even John Wilkes Booth played a role in this. Did he ever realize the ripples he created by assassinating Lincoln? What more could Lincoln have done had his life not been cut short? He is considered to be one of the greatest presidents we have ever had. And I don’t know about you, but I cannot name all the presidents and what impact they had on our country…but I can tell you about Abe. If we take his role and presidency out of the picture, like it never happened, what would our country be like today? And even on a smaller scale, did the author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” have any idea about the role he played in all of this? If Lincoln had never picked up that book, would we know a different world than we do today? Granted, this is a big and powerful example, but I am hoping that it further illustrates my point.
I know, that from the time we were small, someone was always teaching us to treat others the way we ourselves want to be treated. Is that not the Golden Rule? And also, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. If I had a nickel for every time I heard either one of those statements… This is why I do what I do. I would rather streak by an open office door, throwing a “You’re awesome!” at my therapist’s head than never telling her at all. I thoroughly enjoy leaving people after-hours voicemails that they get to listen to first thing the next morning. I love doing nice things for people. I do it because one, I don’t think people hear kind words often enough. Two, I want people to know that they are awesome. Three, I get joy out of giving people warm fuzzies. And four, I like reminding some people that they are making difference because maybe…just maybe…on the day I tell someone that they are making a difference is the very same day that they are questioning if they are making a difference for anyone at all. I get so much joy out of sliding an anonymous note under the door saying, “You’re amazing.” (I’ve just totally blown my cover.) Sure, it may drive you crazy trying to figure out who sent the message…but I love it because you don’t know who sent it…and I get the pleasure of knowing I put a smile on your face that day, even though you didn’t know it was me that gave it to you…because ultimately, does it matter? Does it make a difference for you if you know where something comes from? Or is it just awesome in and of itself to know that you’ve touched someone’s life somewhere along the way and they are now thanking you for it? I love doing things anonymously because I know I did it and I don’t need recognition or praise for doing it. I know that I did it and that’s all that ever needs to come of it. I absolutely love imagining the smile on someone’s face when they find the anonymous note I left for them. Some people do charitable work in order to gain some recognition for doing such a selfless act. That’s the wrong motivation, I think. Yes, you did this amazing wonderful thing but does the recognition for doing it really matter? It should matter more that you donated $50 to a charity that used the money to provide medicine for a sick child…it shouldn’t matter that the $50 had your name on it and came from your wallet. To paint an even bigger picture: I like to wonder, when I do donate money to charities, if my dollar made a difference for that cause, that child, that family, or that country. I would rather spend the rest of my life guessing what difference my small contribution made than to know that my contribution only helped in that one particular situation. Does that make sense?
Let me tell you about some of my most recent and precious warm fuzzies. I am not recounting them here to receive praise for doing these things…they merely bring me so much joy that I love thinking about them and re-reading them.
After I finished group one day and was making my way towards the highway, I saw the local firefighters and medics doing their “Fill the Boot” campaign/fundraiser. The particular light/intersection I was stopped at takes forever to change. As I sat there…I was like, “If that firefighter makes his way to me before the light changes, I am going to dump my entire coin collection from my wallet into his boot.” He made it to my car…so I took my wallet out, unzipped the coin compartment and dumped it all into the boot. Two details…one, I had a shitton of coins…like my purse became 5 pounds lighter. Two, the way my wallet is designed. When I turned it over to dump the coins in, some paper money went with it. I didn’t have a lot in there…it’s mostly just change from the money my mom gives me every now and then for food and stuff [for clarification purposes, I am well beyond the age of having to be dependent on my parents, but due to circumstances mentioned in my Pensieve Dump post, I am completely financially dependent on my mother]…and I use the change to treat myself to Starbucks or Jamba Juice every now and then. While there wasn’t a lot of money in there, if I were to guess…it amounted to probably about $40 and, quite literally, some change. At first, when I realized I had quite literally dumped my wallet into this guy’s boot (I think he got a Target receipt too)…I was like crap, I didn’t mean to do that…would it be awkward to ask for it back? Then I said no…wait…they need that money more than I need my iced tea lemonade. Then I drove home, singing at the top of my lungs the entire way. Here are some words of wisdom: When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you…but because in that brief moment when the coin is in the air…you suddenly know what you are hoping for.
My therapists M and K didn’t know this at the time (and I don’t know, at the time of this publication, when they discovered the little gem I had left for them), but I left a note for them earlier this week along with a CD containing ONE song, thanking them for their role in my life and essentially saying, “Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving.” I am ignorant of their reaction at the present moment but that’s just fine because I have an image of two amazing smiles in my head and that was my entire goal (well that and to really say thank you…I don’t need any acknowledgement of the event). I don’t think I could have personally written a song as good and as appropriate as the one I found completely by happenstance.
This past Monday turned out to be a very windy and rainy one. I thought it was just a normal day in the Pacific Northwest…UNTIL I traveled into another county, two counties away from where I live. (I found out later that this was classified as a “storm” and we beat our rainfall record, last set in !962.) Let me tell you why I went out there. I have a dear friend KW, whom I met at the school I went to for my pharmacy technician certification…she is also a pharmacy technician. KW is in her early 40s, I believe, the mother of SIX children ranging in age (roughly) from 4, 5, 12, 13, 15 and 18. KW’s had a little bit of a rough go at life. Her first baby daddy (to children number 1, 2, 3 and 4) turned out to be majorly psychotic. I don’t know the whole story, but I know that he flipped his shit, was not the man she married, became delusional and quite literally insane. After KW and Dickwagon #1 separated, he never made attempts to see his children or make child support payments and to top it off, he was engaged in a lot of criminal activity which he is now in jail for after being arrested for outstanding warrants for…wait for it…fourteen felonies. (I don’t know all the details of KW’s personal life, so I don’t know exactly when this man went to the dark side.) Then KW met Dickwagon #2 who fathered her two youngest children. KW never married Dickwagon #2, which is probably a good thing because he is an asshole. From what KW has told me, she and Dickwagon #2 are now separated (I don’t know when this happened either; when I met KW in 2009, she was in a relationship/living with Dickwagon #2, but things were rocky even then). KW is now dating again and this seems to have upset Dickwagon #2 (who I found out is currently unemployed, but working under the table and not giving KW any financial support as she has/had primary custody). Apparently, a couple weeks ago, it was Dickwagon #2’s turn to have his two children for the weekend. KW dropped her two youngest children off at his house and then took off to Vegas on Saturday and came home Sunday night. Upon her return, KW went to Dickwagon #2’s house to get the children. He would not let KW have them and he called the cops on her and they essentially told her to amscram and that she shouldn’t be at his house so late (it really wasn’t that late from what KW told me…and that response from a police officer sounds odd to me but I wasn’t there so I’m just recounting what was told to me). KW was really upset by this not only because Dickwagon #2 was unjustifiably pissed that she had started to date again and resented her for going off to Vegas for the weekend, but he was now putting their children in the middle of the situation and using them as pawns to piss KW off and “get back at her.” (These are the two youngest children, one of which is school age and Dickwagon #2 has not taken him to school ONCE since KW came home from Vegas because he is afraid that KW will go to the school to get him, which KW admitted is exactly what she would do.) Note here that KW is an AMAZING woman. She was a stay-at-home mom until Dickwagon #1 went ape shit on her and then she was forced to work so she could provide for her children (that’s how she ended up in school with me). Her children have always been her #1 priority and anyone who knows her knows that. KW is also one cool chick and has the kind of determination and perseverance I would like to borrow sometimes. You can’t knock that girl down and if you try to, you better start running. She has always had a positive attitude and a wonderful smile and sense of humor that she would share with anyone who took the time to talk to her. She is definitely a person I admire. As a result of the aforementioned situation, KW and Dickwagon #2 are due in court at the end of November to sort out custody issues (Dickwagon #2 is also taking KW to court in December for something else…I don’t know what.) After this occurred, KW posted an event to Facebook asking her friends to please write character witness statements (about her and the kind of mother she is) for her to give to the judge so she can get her kids back. Of COURSE I’m going to do this for her. KW lives two counties (and roughly 45 minutes to an hour) away from me which is one of the main reasons why we haven’t seen each other for quite some time. I really have no business over in her hood and she really doesn’t have any business up in my hood and that’s kind of a long drive for either of us to make just to meet up for coffee. I was originally going to mail my statement to KW; she asked that her friends either mail them to her or drop them off for her at work. After sitting on this for a couple days, I’m like, “You know what…I see M on Monday and the highway/route to where KW lives and works is RIGHT there…I am going to take this statement to KW personally and surprise her at work with that and her favorite Starbucks drink because I bet that would let her know how much I care and give her a smile, something she probably hasn’t seen for a few days.” A while back, not really thinking about any boundaries I might have been crossing, I tried to anonymously leave M a $5 Starbucks card. (Note how I said tried and anonymously; M answered wrong only once before she figured out it was me that left the card for her.) She couldn’t accept it due to ethical reasons and gave it back to me, telling me to “pay it forward.” So I did. After my appointment with M on Monday, I hopped in my car and drove over to where KW works, bought her her favorite drink and snuck around to the pharmacy where I caught KW’s eye as she was on the phone in the back of the pharmacy. The look she had and the smile that spread across her face: PRICELESS. I wouldn’t trade that moment for ANYTHING (I only wish I had an actual picture to keep). Keep in mind that KW and I had not seen each other for about 2+ years and of all the people she might have expected to see, I was probably last on her list. She got off the phone and came out of the pharmacy where I gave her the biggest hug I could muster and handed her her requested character statement and her favorite Starbucks drink, piping hot as she smiled at me with tears in her eyes. I was in town for maybe 10 minutes total and I probably spent more money and time getting there and back than one would deem appropriate for justifying such an adventure. But that didn’t matter…that wasn’t the point. KW and I parted ways, agreeing to meet again after everything calms down and I wished her the best in the coming weeks. (Update: The children’s daycare called KW the day before Thanksgiving and told her that Dickwagon #2 had dropped the kids off and told the daycare to call KW to get them and KW went to pick them up…just in time to have them back for Thanksgiving. I can’t even begin to tell you about all of the warm fuzzies that swept through my heart upon hearing that she got her children back in time for the holiday. I love it.)
This isn’t something I did, but is an example of something I would do and it further illustrates my point:
I’m not suggesting you go out and change the world…but never underestimate the power of a simple “Thank you.” or “You’re awesome.” What you give is what comes back to you over and over again. If you don’t like what you are getting, change what you are giving.