We’re a family who strives to live the notion of service being the rent we pay for living.
More than caring about what our Tornado of a girl chooses as a career-path, whether she marries etc we are focused on seeing she’s grateful, giving and realizes “there but for the grace of G-d go I” with regards to her fellow humans.
Two years ago, after watching bloggy friends perform good deeds in honor of birthdays, I suggested to my daughter she do the same to celebrate hers.
Eight mitzvahs to celebrate turning eight.
I let her select what the eight acts would be (as with letting her find her gratitude I surprised myself when I found the letting go challenging).
dog-sitting for a neighbor.
Some acts were easy & fun (play-dates/mom-time) and others forced her entirely out of her comfort-zone (interacting with homeless/introducing herself to new people).
The process, from creation to completion, was an opportunity for me appreciate how she’d matured in the past year.
While (finger quote) people (unFQ) still said tween days of I want! I want! were right around the corner, our celebration of her birthday with a smattering of I give! I give! provided a Helper’s High-filled experience we both benefitted from.
We learned about ourselves, about each other and about what we perceive to be a “need” a good deed could fill.
helping a neighbor get back on his feet.
It was with that backdrop I committed, at her request, to 46 mitzvahs before I turned 46.
These 46 acts of kindness started with a pretty meh birthday in Oakland and will culminate
with sparklers and fireworks tomorrow in Austin.
During the past 364 days of mitzvah’ing I learned:
- It can be challenging to think of NEW NICETIES and not to get repetitious. (I fell back on “if you don’t see a nice person be a nice person” a few times.)
- Kindness is connecting.
- Nothing cures sadness or loneliness more that getting outside of yourself.
- Secrets aren’t inherently bad! Keeping this one has felt like carrying around something special.
- As “giving without recognition” as I’d like to be—there were times I LONGED to see the mitzvah unfold or know what the recipient thought (I followed the Jewish tenet of anonymity).
Tomorrow it’s all over.
I have one act of kindness left–it feels special and momentous for that reason–and I’ve not planned what it will be.
Whether my final mitzvah unfolds as big or small it marks the end of an endeavor, the end of a
longass year and the start of what I hope will be better & brighter 365 days to come.
These 46 acts taught me, yet again, we may be a family who strives to live service is the rent we pay for living but, more often than not, paying our “rent” does far more for us than it does the recipient.