Anonymous giving and acts of kindness can lead the giver to a very lonely place in the universe. Like the Lone Ranger or some other disguised hero, we do kind things all the time and so often the people on the receiving end don’t see it or don’t recognize it.
Living a life of altruism, in its most ideal form, means setting the ego aside and not doing what we do for credit. Usually, I have no problem with this at all. But there are those days, perhaps when I’m feeling a little weak or drained, where I find myself feeling lonely with it all, feeling like I’m giving, giving, giving, to a world that is in super receiving mode and asleep to what’s being done for them. I get a little discouraged.
Even idealized heroes had their inner circle of friends who knew who they really were and what their life was all about. The Lone Ranger had Tonto. Batman had Robin and his butler, Alfred. You get the picture. Being truly altruistic means we do what we do without expectation for credit or recognition. Otherwise, it’s not truly altruistic. But at some point, we have to be good receivers to continue to be effective givers.
I remember shortly after my first child was born that my wife and I reached a point where we were really struggling to make ends meet. We both had jobs but the pay was very meager. We were both doing work that we loved doing and we were really caught up in the magic of being new parents. But a financial reality burst our bubble one day.We had nothing left in savings, and bills that were due, some overdue, could not be met.
We talked with other people about our dire circumstances. We got a lot of sympathy but we were still feeling a lot of stress and not coming up with any solutions. And then it happened. I opened the front door one morning and found a plain white envelope tucked inside the screen door. Inside the envelope was $100 dollars. I felt this tremendous sense of energy swell up within me, surrounding me like a great, warm comforter. Some kind soul anonymously gave what felt like an awful lot of money to me then. They obviously didn’t want credit for their generosity and to this day I’ve never known for certain who it was.
In those days, that $100 would have just about paid for a month’s rent. And even though it wasn’t enough to make good on all of our bills, receiving the money gave us such a sense of relief and humbleness to be blessed by some great kindness of a friend who wanted no credit from us whatsoever. We made it through that dark time, not so much from the money we’d been given, but by realizing how powerful an act of anonymous generosity can be.
I’ve paid that act of kindness forward over and over many times. And even being the veteran giver that I consider myself to be, my mind still swings like a pendulum between the extremes of totally selfless giving and the need to receive something in return occasionally. Despite the back and forth energy of the momentum that is created, my sense is that I am ever moving forward through a world that often feels thankless and uncaring. I am constantly aware that there have probably been countless occasions when I have been the receiver of many acts of kindness from others who may have been aware of what they were doing even though I was asleep to their gift.
I am committed to being more awake to what’s going on around me and to showing my gratitude whenever possible for any act of kindness given, even if it’s as small a thing as someone holding open a door for me. Living a life of kindness is like breathing: for every breath out, there has to be a breath back in. That isn’t about ego. It’s about staying alive and being fully human. Now, let’s get back to it. Hi, ho, Silver, away!
Author – Unknown