On paying it forward

          I walked up to the line in the store with only one grapefruit in my hand. The woman in front of me had a shopping cart filled to over-flowing and she was in the express lane. She eyed my grapefruit and waved me ahead. I said no, that I was in no rush. She started to put her wares on the conveyor belt and again waved me around. Again, I politely refused. She reached back and took my grapefruit and handed it to the cashier who gave me a puzzled look. I handed the guy 2 quarters, thanked the lady for allowing me to go first, told her to have a nice day and as the cahier handed me my grapefruit the woman’s voice bounces off the mountains across the street make sure you pay it forward! I’m pretty sure people 2 counties over heard her. I’m just guessing but I think the concept of paying it forward was lost on the one buying the organic tofu.

            At another store a couple of years earlier, the manager was telling me about being on the toll road and pulling up to the toll booth and paying the toll for the car behind him. Then, he tells me that sometimes he does that when he gets his coffee at Dunkin Donuts. But his delivery is loud so others can hear what a good sport he is. One of the clerks behind the counter interrupts his story line with a question and this guy tears into this employee in front of other customers, ridiculing and berating him. Needless to say, again, the concept of paying it forward was wasted on this guy. There are even blogs and ‘Pages’ on Facebook where you can compare your random acts of kindness with others. Is it just me? I didn’t think that this concept came with a tally sheet.

            Emerson first touched on ‘paying it forward’ in his essay on ‘Compensation’ back in the 1840s and the basics of his essay were not meant to confuse. It was a lesson in common decency: you can pay back only seldom, but you can always pay forward and you must pay line for line, cent for cent and deed for deed. That, in a nutshell, seems pretty easy to understand, does it not? Be grateful for who or what you have in this life. Only rarely do we have the chance to repay someone who has helped us for any number of circumstances and rather than upsetting the natural order of things, you must use your good fortune to help the next guy who will then help the next guy who will… This is how it’s supposed to work, not my act of kindness was better than yours.

 First of all, it’s supposed to be random. Quite frankly, it should be anonymous, without fanfare. If someone is put off by your act of kindness or wants to pay you back, explain that’s not why you acted the way you did, that someone once did you a kindness and asked that you do a kindness for someone one day. Let them know that they are that someone. Then, ask them to pay it forward. Once again, this should be done without fanfare. Accolades are not what you should be striving for. Practice humility and kindness in all of your affairs and you will be planting seeds that will harvest a crop the likes of which you never imagined.

Giving someone kindness, maybe giving someone hope or even just giving someone a kind word could be the difference between them giving up or moving forward in their lives. And the fact that you’re out there like Santa dropping these little gifts into their lives on the q.t. is about as selfless as you can get. And that’s what paying it forward is all about, paying your blessings forward to others. At least, that’s the way I see it. Keep pushin’ it. God bless. MLProko (2011)  


Published in: on October 24, 2011 at 7:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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