When Maggie asked Jessi and I to write this blog about the upcoming ‘Pay it Forward Day,’ I first thought about selflessness, and what it means for the world. Selflessness is taking yourself out of the picture. It is giving and loving freely without thinking of personal gain. It is about opening yourself without thoughts of the impact, positive or negative, that it will have on your own life. When we are selfless we may not know how we will affect someone’s life. And maybe, that person will pass that love onto another, and another…..this can make change.
Sometimes we forget that everyone has their own struggles and are dealing with things you know nothing about. The selfless kindness that you share with the world is a reminder that we are all in this together, and that love exists among the heartache and challenges that are present in our world. This simple concept can have a big impact. Sometimes it feels that these values and qualities are rare, especially with everything that is happening socially, politically, and economically in our society. However, on ‘Pay it Forward Day,’ we can create a shift, and we can challenge all of that with love.
In my mind, I envision two waves crashing together, with one wave representing hate and hardship, and the other representing goodness and love; the wave representing love is much bigger, settling strongly and easily into the vast ocean.
It is certainly easier to go through the motions of the day to day, without stepping back to think about the bigger picture- without thinking about what you can do for others, for those outside your tribe. Showing kindness and acts of love to those within your circle is fairly normal, and how we sustain relationships. We’re there for each other, right? But what about those outside our immediate circle? What about the strangers? Those who may or may not have someone looking out for them. On ‘Pay It Forward Day,’ reach a little further. Show love and kindness to someone that isn’t expecting it.
So, what are we ‘paying forward?’ We are paying forward our love, our kindness, our compassion, and our selves for others. Here are some examples:
- Smile. All. Day. Long. The impact that this can have is huge. This act of kindness can show someone who doesn’t feel loved that they matter to one person. That is a big deal.
- Intervene. Stand up for someone that is being degraded, or treated poorly. In the office, at the store, wherever. Nobody deserves to be spoken to like they are less than.
- Drop your personal bias and assumptions around folks asking for a few bucks on the street. You don’t know their story. Buy them a sandwich, give them a few dollars, wish them luck, smile.
- Ask someone if they need help. I often see folks struggling with their groceries, wrangling their children, or carrying a tremendous load of stuff. Maybe they will not want your help, but it’s worth an ask.
- Leave a love letter somewhere. Put a post-it note in a bathroom reminding someone how wonderful, unique, and beautiful they are. Bring a smile to someone’s face.
When Maggie and I (and her cat, Kanga) were traveling across the country at the free age of 21, we dedicated our road trip to breast cancer awareness. We traveled with a cardboard cutout placed in the window in hopes of spreading awareness. One of the things that we did was leave pink ribbons in random bathrooms across the country. I have wondered who found those ribbons. I hope that someone that had a diagnosis, or that had been touched by cancer, found one. I hope that they knew, in that moment, that Maggie and I, complete strangers, were holding them in our hearts. For a moment I hope that they had comfort knowing that the world is big, and someone they didn’t know was thinking of them deeply.
There are endless examples of how you can ‘Pay IT Forward,’ and I’m certain you run into ways each and every day. It is about opening your eyes, your ears, and your heart, and stopping for a moment. I know you have stuff you are dealing with in your own life, and that it can be hard. Take a moment to remember that amidst your struggle, there are others struggling too, and give a piece of your best self selflessly. This is how change can happen, and how love can show its beautiful face. Focus on the good. Focus on the beauty.
So, on August 26, our lovely and dear friend Maggie goes in for her next scan. She has already written about “scanxiety,” so you can see the emotions that come into play. Let’s think about those waves, those waves that were crashing into each other, and on this day let’s make love win through the acts of kindness you create throughout the day. Let’s show Maggie that we are spreading love in our communities, and creating a ripple in honor of her. A ripple of goodness. A ripple of open hearts and open minds. Let us all honor her on that day by being the most extraordinary beings that we can. I can’t think of a better way to lift her up.
On August 26th, 2016 post a photo or a story that shows you paying IT forward in whatever way you choose. And don’t forget to use #maggiesbrightside it on social media!