Pay It Forward: Part 1
Last week a received a package from a friend. I had completely forgot about this new sort of “chain letter,” thing I started last year. However unlike the old school plague of a never ending chain letter threatening bad luck if not passed on this was something based on the premise of good will and making someone’s life a little better.
The Pay It Forward had a few very simple steps:
1. Post on your social media platform an open invite for five people to participate. “The first five people to accept will receive a surprise action/ gift of kindness -at random-from me within the next year. If you accept, you must pay it forward to five others. This act of kindness can be in the form of a postcard/ handmade gift/ phone call anything that will just brighten up that persons day! ”
2. Once you have your list of people ask them for their addresses and then continue on with your life.
3. When the time feels appropriate send out your act/gift of kindness.
At the time I thought, “what an awesome idea!” And I set off to invite my friends to receive a something special from me.
I had entered the list of names on my phone and every now and then I would look at it and think “oh yeah…”
As the year wore on I struggled with finding the right thing to give or send to these five special people. And I had all these ideas but I just wasn’t able to complete these elaborate projects.
Then it dawned on me. It’s honestly not WHAT you give people. It’s the whole experience of the action. It REALLY is…. The THOUGHT that counts. This actually didn’t dawn on me until last week. When I received that mysterious package from my friend John. He was on my Pay It Forward List and I painted a portrait of his profile photo of him playing hockey. I was also on his list and I completely forgot.
I had a really rough week and when I saw that package a wave of calm and a feeling of “it’s going to be okay,” hit me. Memories and emotions from the past year kind of flashed through me because I suddenly remembered the emotions surrounding the time I started this whole Pay It Forward thing.
I realized in that moment that no matter how bad things get, one year from now you’ll be in a different place and you won’t feel the way you do now. And more than likely life will be better. It wasn’t WHAT John sent me. (Though that was awesome) but it was the whole impact of the timing and the fact he remembered and followed through with the project.
Pay It Forward: Part 2
Now, that was feel good story part one. This next story is what really inspired this blog post.
It’s been a while since Adam and I have been on a date together and we’ve been saving a bunch of gift cards for date nights. We decided that today would be the day we would use some of those gift cards (some of which I’ve been saving for 5 years).
Adams been in school and work has been slow for me so we wanted to spend some quality time together on a budget. We had plans to use Cineplex movie passes that we bought at a discount last year, and a $100 gift card at The Keg, that we’ve been saving for 2 years. Adam had baby sat a friends dog for 2 weeks and our friend gifted it to him for being awesome.
We decided to watch a matinee of Hunger Games at Crowfoot Crossing which also had a Keg, so says the proverbial birds and stones, it worked out for us. We stopped in to make Reservations at the Keg and lucky for us the host said though it was full he was able to find a spot just for us!
We were still early for the movie, so we stopped into Crowfoot Schanks to have a brew. While walking into the sports bar Adam checked to see his exam results and realized he passed his Red Seal exam! After four years of hard work he’s officially a Journeyman Electrician! What awesome day! We had a celebratory beer and finished in time for the movie.
Needless to say Hunger Games was very well done and we happily skipped off to our dinner RSVP. When we arrived Adam realized he had lost the $100 gift card and ran back to the theatre to see if he could find it. Meanwhile I continued with our RSVP and ordered up a glass of wine hoping for the best. He came back. No card. Adam went back again…. No luck. We saved this gift card for 2 years and even lost it a couple times- now gone. Someone must have picked it up when everyone was exiting the theatre…
Sigh. Even though we both knew it’s just a gift card and the whole day was awesome, we couldn’t both help feel pretty bummed out. Because, honestly… We wouldn’t have come here if we didn’t have a gift card. I mean I had other gift cards and we’re both not really working right now so money is tight. We continued dinner as best we could knowing that there’s nothing that could be done and besides its date night and Adams a Journeyman now!
I had posted a FML Facebook status update on our situation once I realized the gift card was definitely a hopeless cause. You know how it is. Just needed to vent, but also in light of the recent Pay It Forward initiative I commented “Reflecting on it I’m hoping someone who really needed a pick me up found themselves a sweet Xmas gift 🙂 we’re banking some karma!!!” I mean it’s Christmas. I have everything that I need and my life is pretty awesome so someone else out there probably needs it way more than us. And on that thought I felt better.
On our way home a friend of mine that I hadn’t talked in a while messaged me to see what was new and asked for my email address. I met Danny over 15 years ago and we spent two summers together training as athletic and survival instructors in the Royal Canadian Air Cadets. The fact that we ended up in the same Flight two years in a row, especially being from opposite ends of the country was like 1 in 100 000 chance. So, yeah Danny and I are those kind of friends that will be friends for life.
So I was chatting with him and then I checked my email.
I can’t explain how much this touched me. And all he said was “Have a Merry Christmas and just pay it forward.”