One of my cohorts here at the Muse has taught me a powerful lesson this season, one I often forget. I try to do my part. I contribute to charities. I support online causes like Wikipedia (if you use it like I do, or even once in awhile, please consider helping keep it ad free – click here). I help local charities and health care related ones like Doctors Without Borders and UNICEF, environmental groups like Nature Conservancy. We all have causes dear to our hearts.
But the Pay it Forward movement started by the Catherine Ryan Hyde book and movie of the same name is a different ball of wax. The practice is similar to the sentiment, Practice Random Acts of Kindness. Or being a Secret Santa to someone who least expects it. It isn’t based on the need of the person, although it can be, or the gratitude felt by the recipient. You the giver expect nothing in return: that’s the key component. You the giftee accept your gift or kindness graciously. I don’t know about you but that is often difficult for me. I want to reciprocate, to match kindness for kindness, to show my appreciation — because, damn it, kindness doesn’t come around all that often.
But that’s not Pay It Forward. Because the chain of light and love goes on. It’s not you-to-me-to-you but you-to-me then around the world. The kindness, however small, keeps going. It lives on without us, it acknowledges the smallness of our lives and yet gathers the incredible force of one person to do good, and the power it gives to others.
This world often seems harsh and uncaring, full of strife and darkness and some truly hideous stuff. Then, out of the blue, someone pays it forward and the light comes on. And on, and on.