Since doing 50 good deeds in 50 days, I’m sometimes asked if I still perform a random act of kindness every single day. The short answer: probably not quite. The reality: I know I do many more good deeds than I used to. It’s not that I was such a selfish pig before all of this. But after 50 days of going out of my way – and sometimes out of my mind – to find some big or small kindness to fill my self-imposed quota, I experienced lasting effects. You could call it a sort of good-deed radar. I find I’m much more likely to pick up on something that could or should be done. Maybe I noticed these things before but glossed over them, too focused on my own typically interminable to-do lists. But there’s this nagging guilt now, a sense of social responsibility, that won’t always allow me to stick my head back in the sand.
That’s what I contemplated this morning as I called the municipality about a leaking water main at the end of my street. Water has been pooling there for days, even during a rainless heat wave; I guess I figured someone on the street had washed their car, or used an automated lawn sprinkler system. Only today I looked more closely and saw an area in the middle of the puddles where water appeared to be bubbling up out of the asphalt. I’ve been walking past that spot every day. How many other people have done the same, each of us assuming that someone else is responsible, or someone else will take care of it? Guilty.
When I talk about good deeds, I don’t mean to sound holier-than-thou. Trust me, I’m about as unholy as they come. But if something I write or say inspires another person to pay just a little bit more attention to the opportunities for kindness that abound, then that has to be a good thing.
Amid the overwhelmingly positive feedback I received after I wrote about good deeds in Canadian Living and Reader’s Digest, there was just one critic who wrote: “Charity is not about boasting and sharing all that we do for others. It is about giving and helping from the heart without being praised by people for doing so.” I wholeheartedly agree. But don’t be afraid to plant seeds of kindness around you. You never know what will sprout.