Time is something I struggle with each and every day. Without a physical office or studio to call my own, I am dependent on public transportation and my own two feet to get me from client to client. On a good day, buses and subways run on time, traffic is moving, and the sun is shining (or at least it isn’t raining). But if even one of these elements is off, my whole day shifts. Being late for one client means I’m late for all subsequent clients. And considering these things are hard to control, I find myself running after buses and to make trains a lot. But in all my years of running to keep time, I’ve never had something like this happen to me…
I saw the M31 bus a block away and started my usual sprint toward the stop. Missing this bus is particularly troublesome considering its unpredictable schedule. I was sure I would catch it just in time to get on and let it shuttle me to my next client. Then I saw it, “Not in Service,” illuminated across the top of the bus. My heart sank and what I imagine to be my Gazelle-like run turned into a stooped-over walk. I tried to catch my breath and contemplated whether or not to wait for the next bus or continue to run 30 blocks to my next client. Then the bus stopped in the middle of the block. And before I could even think about how strange it was, the doors opened and the driver yelled, “Going to 57th Street?” I nodded emphatically. “Come on in!” he says, “I’ll give you a ride.” And so I jumped on!
While I continued to catch my breath, the bus driver greeted me with a big smile and an explanation. He said, “You looked so alive running across the street and then so defeated. I had to do something. So you’re my good deed for the day.”
I thanked him emphatically, explaining how I would have been late for my next client if he hadn’t stopped. As he drove, we talked about his 30 years of service as a bus driver and his childhood aspirations to be a boxer. He told me about his family and how “not one of my three sons is a bus driver. They are all professionals.” And then, a few blocks before our time together was up, he imparted his most cherished wisdom. He said, “I see the same men and women come on and off this bus every day. And they wear their problems like ill-fitted clothes. They’re unhappy.” So I asked, “What would you tell them? How can they reclaim their happiness?” He smiled and said, “I would remind them that we’re all the same. We all live and we all die. So, we need to help each other out. Do a good deed every day and your perspective will change.”
When he stopped at 57th Street, I promised him I’d take his advice to heart. And as I stepped off the bus he said, “Pay it forward. Do a good deed for someone else today!”
The people of New York City never cease to amaze me. This man’s good deed was a gift on so many levels. Not only did I arrive to my next client filled with a sense of calm and joy, but his wisdom continued to resonate within me, guiding me throughout the day. I already like to assess each day with the question “What did I learn today?” and now I’ve added “What did I give today?”
Science tells us that giving boosts the mood of the receiver, but also the giver. To my bus driver’s point, it also connects us by reminding us that we are more similar than we are different. We are all humankind. Everyone is touched by a good deed. And good breeds good. So if everyone stopped to give each and every day to a friend or stranger, just imagine how much more connected we could feel. How much more good we can generate. And how the trickle effect of our own good deeds can spur change that we can only imagine.
This week, I challenge you to do a good deed. Seek it out. It can be as simple as helping someone with their groceries, holding the door for a stranger, or offering to babysit for a friend’s children. Take note of their response and how it makes you feel.
Want to learn more about the impact of giving on your health? Check out Spark Expert Carine’s article on giving.
Make A Change Today,