Saturday, January 1, 2011

Going Guerrilla in 2011

My friend Anne told a great story in church the other day. She started a long time ago the practice of paying for the car behind her in drive-thrus. That week, at a McDonalds in a more upscale neighborhood than she normally frequents, she paid the tab for herself and the next in line. The girl said the other car had only ordered a couple of coffees so it wasn’t a huge amount. She pulled away and on into the adjoining shopping center lot. A glance in the rearview mirror, and she was pretty sure the truck she had just paid for was following her. She thought it might be coincidence, so she went behind the store, and when the truck followed she knew she was indeed being followed, and decided to just go ahead and meet the driver head-on and turned back in his direction. A man got out and came to her window and said, “I’d just like to know why the hell you just paid for my coffee.” She explained that she just does that from time to time, just for fun. He shook his head and said, “Well, that’s the nicest damn thing I ever heard” and got back in his car. We all got a kick out of the story, and we all fell a little more in love with Anne than we already were.

After having heard her story, and then in the same week reading this and this, I knew what one of my new years goals was going to be- to look for every opportunity to do something extravagant and anonymous that I could find. And I don’t just mean buying something for someone or leaving money for them somewhere, although I hope that I am able to do more of that too. I can’t count the times that something has shown up at our house or in our mailbox that was just what we needed and we will never know who it was who took such good care of us. I like what Kindness Girl has to say about what often holds us back.

Over time I realized that kindness came in all forms and I didn’t have to be rich to spread love and joy in the world. Tiny notes left in books at the library, a long conversation with an elderly man in the supermarket, a cold drink for a bum on the street, all of it energized my soul in a way nothing else did or could. There is no selfless good deed but it doesn’t really matter, the world needs it all… I have been on both ends of kindness and decided this was the work of my life. When I looked back, kindness had been calling me all along.

I’ve mentioned before that my youngest and I had a little secret project for a while of leaving little pieces of art in public restrooms- just little painted notes of love. It was a really neat thing for a mom and daughter to do together. If you need ideas, Kindness Girl has a bunch of great ones, or you can look at this list to see if it sparks anything in you. Don’t forget art! What a gift to leave a work of art for someone to find! My friend Suzanne’s church does this cool laundry thing. I’d love to hear some of the things you’ve done or heard about. If guerrilla is defined as a member of an irregular group of armed forces, I’m armed and ready to join the platoon of some of the most creative and generous folks I know.

1 comment:

donna said...

Last Friday, I struck up a conversation with an elderly man in the grocery store. Who would have ever guessed that when much younger, he was a makeup artist for the likes of Shirley Temple, John Wayne and Fred Astaire?

Now his wife is in a nursing home and he said he must report to her what he bought at the grocery store and how much he paid.

Sue, you are the one who introduced me to the idea of guerilla gardening.

Happy New Year, friend.