When my youngest son was growing up, he went through this phase when he was about 9 years old or so, where he would do these Random Acts of Kindness and then he would say “I got you with a Random Act of Kindness” and he would run off laughing. This was a game he loved to play.
My youngest son, always had a very generous nature. We are Native American Indian and generosity is a prized virtue among our tribe and many tribes across the United States. Our ancestors would save their best/most valuable items so that they could give it to someone else that needed it. To horde stuff and not pass it along when someone else can use it, was something we didn’t understand. Our belief is that life is a circle and when we give something away, something we need will come to us, and we’ll have room for it. We’ll be ready to receive it. It is the way the circle of life flows.
Perhaps, part of my son’s generous nature came from our culture beliefs, and family beliefs. I think these beliefs just help to amplify his true generous spirit.
Four years ago I lost my son. He was killed in a car accident. This was one of the hardest things I have ever had to deal with in my life. But like many difficult things in life, there are hidden gifts that emerge when we are ready for them and open to them. I had several gifts emerge through the loss of my son, that I never dreamed would happened. One of the gifts that emerge for me occurred close to the time of my son’s first birthday after his death. I was struggling with the fact that he would not be here in physical form to celebrate his birthday with his family. I thought to myself that this was going to be a really hard day and how would I get through the day.
As I struggled with my son not being here for his birthday, I started to explore the various memories I had of my son. When the memory of him playing this game of Random Act of Kindness emerged, the memory was so vivid and joyful, that I couldn’t let it go. I could see my son performing some Random Act of Kindness (RAK) for someone and then saying to them “I got you with a Random Act of Kindness” and then he would run off laughing with great joy and pride at his accomplishment. I was sudden filled with great joy as this memory played out in my mind.
Then, an idea occurred to me. I thought it would be a good idea to perform a Random Act of Kindness for someone on my son’s birthday. This would honor the memory of my son and help me to focus on something else besides grief and loss. Maybe, I could even celebrate his life.
The more I thought about it, the more I was pulled to do a RAK. I thought I should let my family and friends know about my idea and invite them to participate in the Random Act of Kindness day (my son’s birthday) as a way of honoring him and helping them to deal with their own grief and sense of loss him.
After letting my family and friends know about the RAK day, it was amazing to me how many of them embraced the idea and decided they would participate. The guidelines that we use were these:
- Perform an unexpected Random Act of Kindness – it could be someone you know or a total stranger – your choice.
- It had to be an act that the person receiving it, would perceived as an act of kindness. Something that holds meaning for them, not just you. So, this also means not to give something that is meaningless and useless to the person. By doing this, you haven’t really given anything. This would be a hollow gesture.
- No strings attached to the RAK. The RAK had to be given freely. No expectation of receiving something in return. The RAK had to be given and done for sole purpose of freely giving a kind act to someone.
- The RAK could be something small or something large. It could be as simple as being loving and kind to someone who was in need of this (who couldn’t use more of this). It could be money that someone really needed. It could a gift you made or bought. It could be a phone call. You might cook dinner for someone. Go visit someone who needed their spirits lifted. Clean someone’s house. Go swimming with someone, or hiking with someone or a walking with someone or bike riding with someone. The idea was for you to look around in your life/world and see what RAK you could give to someone.
I have done a variety of things for my RAK, but one year, I had bought a book on the internet and when the book arrived, it wasn’t what I was looking for. When I contacted the seller, they gave me instructions on how to go about returning the book and how I would receive a refund. I informed them that I didn’t want a refund, that I what I wanted instead, was for them to do a kind deed for someone else. They couldn’t believe what I was saying and what I was doing, but in the end, they agreed not to give me my refund and to do a RAK for someone.
A few weeks later, I heard from the book seller. They told me what kind deed they had chosen to do for a total stranger and they just wanted me to know they had done a kindness for someone and they seemed really happy about the whole RAK interaction they had experience. I was glad and I wonder how far their RAK would rippled out to creation and I wonder if it is still moving today. Hmmmmm.
I believe in doing service work and being generous. What we do in life, ripples through out this great life. It is like throwing a pebble in a pond and watching the waves from it ripple out. The pebble is the act (hopefully a good and kind one) and the waves are the effects it has on life. So, remember to be mindful of the pebbles you are throwing into your part of the pond.
I would like to invite anyone who is interested to participate this Sept 4th for a Random Act of Kindness day. You may have a loved one you have lost. This would be a good way to honor their memory and to celebrate their life or you may want to do this for the pure joy of doing a Random Act Kindness. I have always felt great joy and pleasure when performing a RAK. I think you will to.
If you do a RAK, come back and leave a post about it. I would love to hear your story know what RAK you performed.
Below is a slideshow of some photos of my children, two of my siblings that grow up with my children and the background music in the slideshow is a song called “Old to Nathaniel” (here is the bands web site: http://www.myspace.com/answerforeverything). The song was written for my son Nathaniel by his friends. I hope you enjoy the slideshow.