COLUMN: Pay it forward with kindness

Being kind and helping others could be the key to enjoying 2019, writes columnist April Lewis

It’s snowing in Newfoundland.

In fact, they have had a monstrous blizzard recently, with record-breaking snowfall.

It made the national news.

Why, you ask, as inclement weather in Eastern Canada is hardly newsworthy. But when you see people picking up snow shovels and helping to dig out their neighbours and strangers, it becomes news.

A community lending a helping hand and demonstrating acts of random kindness made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

And what about the elderly gent in Montreal, fondly known as The Bike Man, who just died? He anonymously donated bicycles to children in need on an annual basis.

It also made the national news.

There was a posting on Facebook where a kid asked his mom to pay for the food order of the customer ahead at the drive-thru restaurant.

And we see countless letters to the editor of this newspaper thanking strangers for their kindness after helping them after a fall or returning their lost purse.

Why do we react to acts of kindness as if they are something out of the ordinary or unusual?

Why are acts of kindness newsworthy?

I am thinking 2019 should be the year we practise kindness on a daily basis and make it part of our DNA. No need for news cameras or accolades or awards.

In these troubling times, kindness will go a long way; in fact, it can have a domino effect. If someone is nice to you, odds are you might pass it on.

I have personally experienced an act of random kindness recently.

I drove downtown on a dark and rainy night to hang out with my daughter for a stress-free float at a trendy float spa. The rain was pelting down and I had to concentrate as I can never remember which streets are one-way in downtown Vancouver. I had difficulty finding a parking lot but finally did. I approached the machine to pay for my parking to realize it did not accept cash, only credit cards.

No worries, I thought, as I will use my Visa.

Then, I was suddenly overcome with panic as I realized I had used my card earlier that day and put it in the pocket of my other raincoat. (Yes, I can proudly say I own two raincoats!)

So, I had no Visa.

I saw a car approach with a young man in it and I walked up to his car and tapped on the window.

He rolled it down at which point I immediately blurted out, “I am not a crazy woman! I am not a stalker,” and proceeded to share my dilemma with him.

He got out of his car and together we walked to the parking machine, whereupon he paid the $12 with his credit card. I thanked him and offered him cash, which he politely refused.

Instead he said, “Enjoy your evening with your daughter.”

I was determined to pay it forward and had a similar opportunity at the park-and-ride, where I met a panicked woman on her way to a job interview. She didn’t have the correct change so I gave her a toonie (oh generous me!) and suggested she smile and make eye contact during the interview.

Two examples of random kindness which are not newsworthy nor in need of any further attention.

But I can guarantee that all of us likely slept better that night, smiled a little more and may have felt the world to be a little gentler place.

I hereby declare 2019 as National Kindness Year.

No acknowledgment required.

April Lewis is the local communications director for CARP, a national group committed to a ‘New Vision of Aging for Canada.’ She writes monthly.

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