Stories of Kindness from Around the World

The Circle of Giving and Receiving


--by timcollardey, posted Mar 15, 2009

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!

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Readers Comments

Brandy Ogle wrote: I am the mother of a 6 year old boy , a 3 year old boy and 2 year old triplets. In the past year my family has lost our home , our independance , and had to live in a homeless shelter. My husband is out everyday walking trying to find work. I keep telling myself that everything will be okay , i keep my faith in my lord and i never forget what he done for me. So every gift i am givin and every hard ship that my family faces i thank god for the oppertunity to wake up the next day to see my familys smileing faces. I don't have any way of doing anything to help my husband he does the very best that can. I am not asking for anything , if you can see it in your heart to help my family please know that i will be so thankful. Thank you , and god bless.
SHARON wrote: Hi, my husbent and i have been sturggling for about the last 6 yrs. I have lupus, and fibermyelga,ect. I was working at krogers and had to quit my job because of my health, he got laid off last nov. And we cant pay bills and house. I dont have family that will help out. I seen how you have helped peoples sprits. Please let me see the sun again. Every thing happens at once then we had to have our dog put to sleep, now that to me was the end of the world. I coulnt have a baby, because of my lupus, i had 5 misscarriages. I have called the morgage co. To see if they can help us, but they will not. I seem like we are at the end of a dead end road. I had a brother that died at 32 and had to have a kidney transplant, he died. Well i told my hus. That when i go, i want eveything to go to donations to save other lifes, and what ever, like my house to be sold and the money to go to help out with human sec. For aniamls. I am always trying to help others, i feel good when i am able to do that, of course by doing things for them, because i cant with money. It has been so so hard for us, i am not able to get around very good, and have alot of drs. Bills. But most of all it is killing my hus. Hi feels like a failure, he said he is suppost to take care of me and he does not feel like that because of the way things have been going. Thank you, and may god bless you
Lotus wrote: I like your story a lot, tim. May i include it on my website? I'd give you full credit, of course. Website is diy and learning as i go forward. :-)
lucia wrote: Thank you for your words. I believe we all need to feel loved and understood, not be saints but the very real humans we are. The responses to your lovely offering reflect the value of your actions, there are many in the world who understand.

I like the words of kahlil gibran in the prophet on giving. Less altruistic and aware of our giving, but like the flower giving its scent. Yet i also feel i need to remain committed to the giving even in harder moments. Then i am aware of the act. Still by continuing i get through the dry spells and do my 'bit' as best i can to making the world a kinder place for all.

Thank you for writing
dr mahesh hemadri wrote: Help is always help. Whether it is remebered act or unremembered act. It has its own potential of making some ones
Life more valuable. Meaningfull. And precious. Rather reminiscence of any good acts. Performed brought wonderfull
Results in human beings. We need to reflect ourselves.
Aruna wrote: Felt energized. Got this opportunity to thank everyone and god for all the acts of kindness done to me. And strength to continue giving to others with out waiting to be thanked. !

Very good writing thank you
chip wrote: Thank you for sharing! At this moment, i find myself in a pit as i have spent my life giving without expectations only to feel guilty when i could use some 'attention'. I know this loneliness all too well but am encouraged by your words! On occassion, gratitude would feel like a hundred bucks! I don't stay down for long, but it is a deep 'down' when it happens! Blessings!
timcollardey wrote: Yes, lotus, spread the love with my many blessings! Tim
silvia ricca wrote: Touching, really touching.

Left it me with a sense of peace and happiness to know that there people who think the same as me.

Go on writing please.
Bhimaraju wrote: Very nice

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