I love Maya Angelou and I'm so grateful to Oprah for really highlighting Maya's life and even making me aware of her existence. I've used her quotes before because she never fails to move me with her insight. This one came across my desk just as I was asking the Universe to send me some inspiration.
"I'm convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere."
I'm writing this the day after my birthday. I always love celebrating, but last night was really special. I had chosen a restaurant based on an intuitive hit that was supported by a friend's recommendation. Twice, before the actual dinner, I spoke on the phone with a charming man named David -- once, a few days before the event, to make the reservation and again, as I circled the block, to ask if there was valet parking. I was worried about being late for the reservation and he assured me it was all good and he guided me to a parking garage. When I walked into the restaurant I was flabbergasted to see that "David"
was a young man who grew up next to our suburban home when I was married and raising kids. I hadn't seen him in at least 20 years and when he realized who I was, he decided not to say anything until I arrived. As the manager, he took care of seating us and even sent a special dish over. The food (tapas!) was delicious and my friends and I had a delightful evening. When it came time to settle up the bill, we were told that "David" took care of it as a way to celebrate our connection. I was nearly moved to tears.
Leaving the restaurant I noticed how good we all felt. We kept telling each other how happy we were to have gotten together. When we needed to pay for the parking, we were gracious with the attendant and had a little friendly conversation with him. I think I smiled for at least half of the trip home and probably was more polite than usual on the drive (I confess -- sometimes I'm a "Boston driver"). I do remember thinking how nice that another motorist waved and "thanked" me when I let him into the line of traffic.
I was staying in a hotel and I didn't hesitate to smile and say "good evening" when I passed through the lobby. I went to bed with the thought of having had the nicest day.
This is what happens when we "do good". You can either interpret "good ripples" as a noun/subject + verb, meaning doing something fine and good-hearted creates a beneficial flow, or, you can see it as a noun and an adjective, as in "nice waves". Either way, it implies that being kind, thoughtful, and generous sets up a series of reactions that continue the positive feeling and help it spread. Who knows what you can set in motion with a little kindness and thoughtfulness.
Of course, we can also send uncaring and mean-spirited energy out into the world. Just as a charitable action makes us feel good and want to pass it on, being treated badly unfortunately raises the risk that we might "take it out" on the next person and be disagreeable or even hurtful.
With all my traveling, I am so aware and grateful when I encounter helpful people along the way. As much as I usually try to learn a few words of the local language, on my most recent trip I was completely out of my usual language league. I appreciated how often someone either spoke English without judgement or tried to find another way to communicate. All the staff on the river cruise I recently took went out of their way to be incredibly considerate which meant every day started out on a positive note for me. Consequently, I brought that warm. fuzzy feeling with me into the day.
So, next time you feel a hostile ripple coming your way, plunk your own, bigger, caring, warm-hearted pebble into your immediate life-pond and set some loving ripples into motion. You never know where the good you put out will end up!