Miscellaneous Good Deeds

This Sunday I did something I never thought I would do...willingly.  I went to Church.

It must be understood that this is a big step for someone who bullshitted their way through Catholic school.  Ironically one of my best subjects was religion, and I can't say I ever truly was believer.  What I do believe in is personal responsibility, and mutual respect for mankind.  I've come to believe that that's GOD - Good Ol' ...Delightfulness...?

Going to Church didn't change me.  It didn't give me an epiphany.  Participating in the homily, hymns, or the Eucharist didn't make me feel closer to God.  What church provided me was a place.  I went because I needed somewhere to just be for an hour.  It gave me an hour to, uninterrupted, reflect on my life - a private conversation with myself, and the universe.

The priest's sermon was about innocence - specifically, childlike innocence and how we should make strides to protect it from an otherwise harsh world.  To be honest, I was only half listening to the sermon, so I can't summarize it accurately even if I tried; between my own reflection, and what seemed to be 3 infants crying in unison, the sermon was the least captivating of the church going experience.  Nonetheless, I came away inspired to protect my own childlike innocence and share my whimsy and kindness with the world.  I left feeling a little lighter than before.

Having cleared my conscience with myself, apologized to all the people I had been dishonest with, hated, resented, or feared for no reason, and alternatively, forgiven all the people who were hurting me or have hurt me in the past - I was ready to be all positive once again and let go of whatever emotional and physical pain I had been feeling.  What happened?  I had one of the best days of my life, in the simplest of ways, on the simplest of days.

Church is historically an outing characterized by domestic disputes on the way to and from mass for our family.  There is always something irritating at least one of us about someone in the clan, and since we are all equally defensive, things that should not illicit more than a few moments of displeasure turn into hours of misery.  However, on the way back, I was able to diffuse an annoying situation with lighthearted humour.  The rest of the day with my family was pleasant as a result.  We ate nicely together, and watched (and sang all the songs in) "Beauty and the Beast".  I played my guitar and sang my heart out.  I baked with my Mom, and later on I went skating with one of my best friends Gavin, where we played hockey and I attempted to co-ordinate some Elvis Stojko-esque ice dance moves. 

I fell down...a few times.

However, the most rewarding part of the day was in the parking lot before skating.  I was waiting for Gavin in the parking lot, and as I was sitting and playing with my phone, I heard a van in front of me struggling to start.  I immediately jumped into action, and moved my car next to theirs to give it a jump start.  When I got out of the car, the middle eastern woman stepped towards me, and told me "Thank you so much, and it's funny that I was just telling my sister how there are no good people left in the world, I guess I was wrong". 

Really?!  I only gave you a jump start lady!

Anyways, she gave me $5 afterwards as I put the jumper cables back in my trunk, and later on when we were at Tim Hortons, Gavin and I used the money to donate to a Christmas Caroling church group that made an appearance.  That's when I realized the impact that good deeds, especially small ones, have the power to change our world.

What was a small act of kindness for me, had a lot of meaning for the lady I helped in the parking lot.  In her mind, I put her needs before my own agenda; I gave her the time of day, and didn't choose to ignore her, and to her, that made me a "good person", changing (perhaps temporarily) her view that there were no good people left in the world.  My act inspired her good deed to give me $5 for coffees after skating, and we were grateful for it.  The carolers then sang pleasantly for us in Tim Horton's, which we were also grateful for, as it's not something that happens every day, and their act of kindness inspired us to give to their cause.  Based on this small chain of events, it's clear how powerful respect, responsibility, and gratitude can be in impacting peoples behaviours and outlooks on life.  One seemingly insignificant thing can go a long way, because goodness is lasting. 

Good deeds make us happy and smile when they are happening, and again, when we recall that time someone went out of their way to help - it has the power to restore your faith in humanity.  It's hard to put oneself in someone's position and think about how they experience the world, but what the lady's statement meant to me was that no matter how small the deed, we have the power to brighten someones day - to change how someone sees the world, even if it's just temporary - and that is, in its own way, saving the world.

Arianne TongComment