The other day, I committed an inadvertent act of kindness: I rescued a little pine tree shoved in the garbage can in the lunchroom at work.
It was nothing I expected to see. I went in to refill my water bottle and there was a bristly, dark green tree in a pot, still laden with its red sequin-dusted Christmas decor, sticking out of the can. At first I thought it was fake, but something made me look closer. Nope. This little guy was alive and perfectly well.
I plucked it out of the bin, this gift no one wanted, denuded it of its sad finery and set it on my desk. Just looking at it made me feel better than I had before, on what was a fairly long, back-from-vacation day at work.
I gradually became aware that this tree represented something that went beyond me. Its capacity for giving joy seemed boundless. Work friends came by to admire it in person. Facebook friends admired it from afar. It wasn’t just me feeling good, it was other people not even around it!
This tree has the potential to give people outside my corner of the world happiness, too. If I plant it outside, it will provide shade, beauty, oxygen, peace, or everything all at once; and things I haven’t even touched on or considered yet.
It may also just make someone smile who badly needs to smile.
One of the things I love about the 26 Acts of Kindness movement is that any act of kindness counts. None of the usual things seem to get in the way. Size, gender, religion, species; there is no limit, nor should there be one. Everything has a ripple effect that goes beyond what our immediate vision can see and perceive.
If you follow the #26Acts Twitter stream, you’ll see all sorts of examples:
- “I bought toys for homeless children.” #26acts
- “I bought coffee for the person behind me in line.” #26acts
- “Gonna donate blood.” #26acts
- “Just saved a bird that flew in the café.” #26acts
Another great thing about this movement is I haven’t seen people deriding other people’s choice of acts. There seems to be no misconception that just because a person saves a bird or a tree, they don’t also care about saving a person, or are ignorant or uncaring about other causes too, as if one’s capacity to love is finite.
I see that ridiculous assumption over and over everywhere else–but not for this. #26Acts are allowed to be exactly what they are: Doing something good, no matter what.