Thursday, February 16, 2012
Lunch With A Friend
This one is a little tricky for me to write, and it brings up some interesting thoughts/questions about the nature of an act of kindness. Let me tell you what happened first, and then explain why it's a little delicate.
Several weeks ago, I was thinking about a man I've known for some 25+ years and with whom I occasionally have breakfast or lunch. I hadn't seen him in some time and knew that he was struggling with some health issues, so I decided it would be nice to take him to lunch and spend some time together. Our schedules didn't quite match, so today was our first chance to finally connect. We had a good lunch, enjoyed some great conversation, and I know he appreciated that I had reached out to him to make it happen. It was my pleasure to extend that kindness.
The reason I say this is tricky to write about is that I don't want him (or any other subject of my kindess) to feel somehow "used" - as if the only reason I called is to be able to "cross it off my list" and write about it. And that concern got me thinking about this whole issue of whether it in any way diminishes a kindness if we make a "task" of it; or whether the only thing that matters is that the kindness was genuine in its intent.
On the one hand, one could argue that it's the spirit that matters most. As long as the act of kindness is done willingly, and with a spirit of generosity rather than begrudgingly or out of obligation, then it's a meaningful act. On the other hand, one could also argue that if the act was helpful to another, then does it really matter what was behind the act? It's the impact that matters most. If I shovel someone's driveway, the person will likely never know what was in my mind as I was doing it - but they'll have a clear driveway regardless.
To be honest, I'm not sure where I fall on this question. I do know that making a commitment to do an act of kindness every single day is a big commitment, and that it helps to have it on my list of things to do each day. While the list may help me to accomplish my goal, I try to be very "present" to each act of kindness, focusing on the recipient and approaching each situation with as much authenticity and genuineness as I can.