Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Paying "it" Forward - Lessons from my Dad

Well, I have moved on from my Header Craze thanks to the inspiration of a Good Life Wednesday post that I read at the blog, A Beach Cottage-Life By the Sea.
I was inspired because recently my colleagues and I were talking about frustrations that we had experienced when we engaged in the 'pay-it-forward' movement.
I don't think any of us felt that we would not do "it" again.  We were all perhaps somewhat surprised by the reaction or lack there of on the part of our recipients.
It got me wondering,
.... what do we expect when we participate in this movement?....or should we expect anything?.....

Did you ever see the movie, Pay it Forward - the Power of Three.....kinda sappy perhaps, interesting concept though, the power of numbers and exponential growth.  It set me on a reflective course, back to my own childhood experiences.

Homeless in campo formio
by Roman Bonnefoy (
As a child, I grew up with some pretty strong images of my own father paying "it" forward.  I have a sharp image branded into my memory of a road trip to Florida and a stop at the end of the day at a small road-side diner.  In front of the diner, sitting on the blvd. was a homeless man.  He impressed me, only because as a child from a small town where homelessness seemed non-existent.... I was unsure of him, afraid of the unknown. 

My father, on the other hand, saw a person down on his luck, in need of a wash-up and a good meal.  
Before I knew it, my father was over at his side, instructing him to get washed up in the restaurant bathroom and that a meal would be on its way to him.  And within minutes of that he was speaking to the manager and advising him to allow this man into his bathroom and send him out a meal which my father would buy.
It all happened so fast.
I was worried that the man would be embarrassed by this action.
Why wouldn't my father insist on him eating inside?
But, he knew,
that this was about the man eating a meal, 
keeping his dignity and not being judged.
I don't think he knew he was paying "it" forward though.

 US Navy 060602-N-6159A-001 Chief Aviation Electronics Technician Theodore Person lines up a stack of lumber during a local Habitat for Humanity project at the McNair Park Villas in downtown Jacksonville
I had many more experiences like that, with my dad, many of them sitting on the edge of my memory.
Some of them he clearly thought out and were personally satisfying, like Habitat for Humanity.

Sometimes it might have been all about his business. 
My father owned a hardware store, so giving John, a local First Nations man, a free bag of nails meant John would not need to steal them.

There was the time he had me deliver and assemble a barbeque that was bought by the old woman that lived out in Craigleith on the shores of Georgian Bay.

Or the time that I took back the repaired lawn mower to Mrs. Kinsey down the street with instructions to cut her lawn so she would be convinced that it worked.

You see, I think that a lot of us have really been part of the design, the concept introduced in that sappy film,  the Power of Three.  The idea that random acts of kindness are what we teach our children to care about those around them and to be involved.
The notion that simple goodness multiplies...

Yep, I am pretty sure that he knew what he was doing.
In each of those instances, and the many more that are slowly creeping back into memory, I believe he knew that this was simply part of life....something you do.  I know he did not expect to have it ever come around again, to benefit him in any way but it was simply that.....

A Random Act of Kindness...
Sappy....maybe...  but all kinda easy when you think about it.
A tantôt

Beach Cottage Good Life Wednesdays

1 comment:

  1. I think you should be kind to others and "pay it forward" expecting absolutely nothing in return. it is also important to give with a happy heart! Sweet post :D


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