“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” -Scott Adams
Iâ€™ve got a problem with people being nice to me. I do. Maybe it was how I was raised. Self-sufficiency was the rule, and on those shameful days you had to ask for help you had better dang well repay generously. â€œGive and takeâ€ meant giving way more than taking.
Itâ€™s a good rule of thumb, I think, but it also makes it hard to accept acts of kindness. Instead of simply saying thank you and enjoying the gift, I have a need to repay in some way or other.
Recently our lawnmower got all wonky. The blades cut into the dirt, and it didnâ€™t matter how high I set them. It looked like I was trying to plow our yard instead of mow it.
My husband is good at many things, but fixing mechanical stuff is not one of them. He walked around the lawnmower, started it up, brushed a bit of grass off the seat, and then shut it off. â€œWe needed to get it in for repair,â€ he said. I nodded as I shoveled dirt back into the trenches Iâ€™d created on my crazy lawnmower joyride. â€œI was kind of thinking that too.â€
The first problem– we no longer have a trailer. The one my husband brought into our marriage fifteen years ago was a rickety thing even in its prime. Think Beverly Hillbillies meets High School Shop Class 101. However, it was functional if you didnâ€™t drive too far or if you didnâ€™t load it with anything heavier than one of my husbandâ€™s famous fruitcakes.
Years passed, and the thing became downright feeble. If wood can acquire osteoporosis, it had it. The tires were flat half the time, and questionable the other half. One of the rear lights hung at an odd angle and gave it a saucy, slightly deranged, look. It was like a terminal eye twitch. Finally, my husband gave up. He drove it to the local landfill and paid for its funeral. â€œWe donâ€™t need a trailer,â€ he said, and we both tried to believe it.
The second problemâ€”we need a trailer. The repair shop we like no longer is willing to come and get our lawnmower. â€œWe only did that as a one time favor,â€ they said. Saying please, please, please, got us nowhere.
Meanwhile, our lawn was growing into a lush and fertile meadow. Apparently plowing it was a stimulant. I began eyeing a distant neighborâ€™s goats as plan B. But, Iâ€™d need a trailer to get them. Arrgh!
Reluctantly, my husband called Dennis. Dennis is an uber-kind fellow who provides us with fresh eggs, plows us out when winter gets nasty, and never, ever, expects much in return. His wife Sharon is cut from the same cloth. â€œCould you possibly help us get our lawnmower in for repair?â€ my husband said.
â€œOf course!â€ said Dennis. â€œIâ€™ll be there in the morning.â€ And he was.
When we got the call that our lawnmower was repaired and ready Dennis volunteered to get it. My husband and I looked at each other. How do you repay so much kindness?
Today the phone rang. â€œHowâ€™s the lawnmower running?â€ said Dennis.
â€œI was just about to mow the grass,â€ I said. â€œI guess Iâ€™ll find out!â€
â€œIf you have any problems let me know, okay?â€
â€œYes, and thank you for checking.â€
I went out to the garage, plopped onto the lawnmower seat, and turned the key. The engine grumbled to life, and I headed into the sunshine. The wild meadow slowly returned to a somewhat tame yard.
A short while later Dennis drove by. I waved and gave the universal â€œthumbs upâ€ sign. Dennis waved back. Did he need to run an errand, I thought, or was he gently checking to make sure I didnâ€™t need help?
Kindness. Itâ€™s still hard for me to accept because I feel that need to repay, repay, repay. But seeing the dust curl behind Dennisâ€™s truck as he drove down the road softened me, healed me, in some finding-the-light sort of way.
Sometimes saying thank you with a grateful heart is enough.
I could repay Dennis by being equally kind to others, if that is even possible. The ripple starts with me.