Thursday, April 23, 2009

What Can You Do Today?

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." ~ Theodore Roosevelt

A few days ago I had an interesting conversation with my mother and a friend who stopped by to see us. We were discussing good deeds, and my friend said that she loved to help others, but hardly had the time to devote herself to any kind of charity work. My mother, who doesn’t speak much English, waited for me to translate, and then simply asked her: “Do you ever leave your house?”

My friend looked a little puzzled, and replied that indeed she is always gone from dawn to dusk, running around all the time. My mother then said: “Well, then, your life is full of opportunities to help others”.

After that short conversation, we went out and I was stunned at what I had the chance to observe. We stopped by to see my husband at work, and in the parking lot I noticed an elderly lady struggling to get out of her car. I held the door for her, and helped her out of the vehicle. Right after that, I saw a delivery man who tried to open the door with arms full of stuff – opening the door was a small gesture for me, but it certainly helped him a great deal. I spent the rest of the day really observing people and situations nearby, and was astonished at the number of situations I normally would not have noticed.

We are so used to program every moment of our lives that we often overlook the opportunities that abound in the unplanned moments of our days. Regardless of what we do, where we are, who we are with, we all have the opportunity to help with something – an old lady may need help loading grocery bags in her car, a colleague at work may need help making copies, someone may need help picking up something they dropped.

No act is too small. Mother Teresa once said that a small act of kindness is indeed like a tiny drop in the ocean, but the ocean would be less without that single drop. Similarly, everything we do for others makes a difference; it may not be a difference that is readily visible, but something has been changed because of it, nonetheless.

We can start today. Let’s go out into the world and see how we can serve, merely for the sake of spreading a ray of sunshine into someone else’s corner. As we do so, we will allow that light to enter within the dark recesses of our own soul as it is impossible to shine a light for someone else and not be guided by it ourselves.

Let’s not wait until tomorrow to do something nice - let’s start today, this hour, this minute; right where we are, and toward whoever we are with in this moment. Let’s spread a word of encouragement, a smile, a single touch, or even a little spare change to someone who needs it more than we do.

No matter what we do, let’s do it without expecting anything back. What we receive from that small gesture may surprise us after all.

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