Monday, May 11, 2009

GKE #7 - Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda ... just do it!

In January I was at BWI airport. It was early in the morning on a Thursday. As I walked through the airport I saw lots of men and women in military uniform – I wasn’t sure but had a pretty good hunch that these soldiers were coming back home from being deployed. On the way to my gate, heading for vacation to sunny Florida, I saw about 15 soldiers standing on line to board an aircraft bound for North Carolina. I stood there frozen for a few moments. I felt such deep gratitude toward these soldiers. I pictured myself walking up to each of them, shaking their hands and saying ‘thank you.’ I pictured myself standing on a chair in the waiting area and starting a wave of applause. I pictured myself walking up to just one of them and saying ‘welcome home.’ But I didn’t do any of those things. I said a silent prayer of thanks and continued to walk toward my gate. As I sat there waiting to board my flight I wondered to myself why I hadn’t spoken up. What was I afraid of? Did I really think they would dismiss my offer of appreciation? Did I think that they wanted to be left alone? Did I think I would have walked away from the encounter being embarrassed in some way?

There is a woman in town that is on the Meals on Wheels route I cover. I’ve got to admit that she’s a favorite for me. She has this calm and sweet way about her. She always offers a warm greeting and I leave her home smiling every time I see her. For the same reasons I didn’t say anything to the soldiers at the airport I’ve never really extended myself to the Meals on Wheels clients beyond dropping off their meals and offering a kind word. I’ve never wanted to overstep my boundaries or intrude in any way. Several weeks after my vacation to Florida I ended up once again at Ms. Campbell’s home. This time, with what I didn’t do at the airport fresh in my memory, I decided to linger a little while. I asked her a few questions and before I knew it I was sitting across from her having a lovely conversation. Since then I always try to set aside some time to chat with her each time I deliver her meal. I learned earlier this year that her son was very sick, he passed away in March.

During the week leading up to Mother’s Day I thought about bringing her flowers for the occasion. I pondered this and, although I knew it was a lovely sentiment, I again wondered if I would be intruding. After all, this wasn’t a regularly scheduled time for meal delivery. What if I would be bothering her by knocking on her door on a Sunday afternoon? What if she was having too hard of a day grieving for her son and didn’t even want to be reminded it was Mother’s Day?

After work on Sunday my husband, Darryel, and I were at a store picking up groceries to make for dinner and I turned around and saw these beautiful flowers. Even though Ms. Campbell’s home was only two blocks away – yep, I hesitated yet again. I knew Darryel was exhausted from working on our house all day and I was still unsure about how welcomed my gesture would be … but I pressed on. “Honey, would you mind if we stopped at Ms. Campbell’s house? I’d like to bring her some flowers.”

I knocked on the door and presented Ms. Campbell with my gift. Boy oh boy – her smile was the biggest I’d ever seen!! She hugged me and thanked us and was so incredibly delighted. It was awesome! Back in the car Darryel said “You know, you really made her day.” And I thought to myself, “No, she really made mine.”

There are lots of reasons why I find it difficult to seize every opportunity to practice random acts of kindness. Probably the biggest is that it truly isn’t an everyday occurrence in people’s lives. Personally I’ve received some odd looks, and even some pushback, when I’ve tried to do something nice for a stranger. But I think what I’ve learned most recently is that I’m committed to addressing my inhibitions and pushing past the fears I may have. I’m committed to stop doubting and start doing. :)

1 comment:

  1. Funny that our fear of how someone would respond to our kindness can prevent us from acting on it.

    What a great story, I hope it inspires others to challenge their own inhibitions too ~ it will certainly be something I reflect on when I find myself in that situation again.


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