You Get What You Give

[dc]I[/dc]t’s my junior year in college and I’m on my way home from a spring break trip to the Bahamas. My flight makes an unplanned stop in Hartford, CT, due to some weather issues at my destination: Boston, MA. Being the anxious flyer that I am, that news doesn’t sit too well with me.

After a bit of a wait, we board to finish our journey, and I’m feeling pretty nervous. There are lots of spring breakers on this plane, including some new friends we met while in Nassau. They all assure me that this jaunt will be a piece of cake; after all, it’s only about a 30-minute flight.Kindness

As soon as we take off, the turbulence is intense. Not just “I’m a nervous flyer” intense. Like, really intense. I’m gripping my armrests as tightly as I can, and squeezing my eyes shut in hopes that this is all a bad dream.

We finish the takeoff, but the bumpy ride isn’t finished with us. Tears begin to fall out of my clenched-shut eyes. This is gonna be the longest 30 minutes of my life, if I even survive it at all.

My college friends are trying to comfort and reassure me, but it’s just not working. Then, Bill, a college guy we met briefly in Nassau, takes my hand. I open my eyes as he says, “Kerri, I know this feels scary, but trust me. I’ve been on a lot worse flights. You’re gonna be just fine and we’ll be in Boston before you know it.”

It’s comforting, for a moment, to hear he has survived bumpier flights. I look at him questioningly as he kneels in the aisle next to me. (Clearly, flight regulations were much looser then, as no attendant was telling him to take his seat).

“You mean it?” I say to Bill. “We’re gonna make it?”

He silently nods, and then a big smile comes across his face as he begins to sing in his best reggae voice:

“Don’t worry about a thing. Cause every little thing gonna be all right.”

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He sings the line over and over, and others join in. Giggles start to mix in with my tears as I look around at the people near me and see everyone singing. Surely if they’re all calm, every little thing really is gonna to be all right.

We land at Logan International to applause and relief. “See, Kerri? Bob Marley knew what he was talking about,” Bill said. I hugged him and thanked him for helping me get beyond my fear.

After we deplane and step into the airport, Bill drops to his knees and kisses the ground. I look down at him, confused.

“Oh, Kerri, that was the scariest freakin’ flight I’ve ever been on!”

My mouth drops open. “What?!” For a split second, I’m mad at him for lying to me, but then I’m even more thankful. This guy, who had no relationship with me at all, put aside his fear to comfort me.

This act of kindness and support still moves me almost 20 years later, and to this day, “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley is one of my very favorite songs. I’m sure Bill has no idea how lasting his impact has been.

It’s no secret that we need more kindness in this world; kindness for each other and kindness for ourselves. We seem to struggle with the kindness for ourselves, but one quick way to address that is to be kind to others.

A client of mine, who was feeling a bit down about being single on Valentine’s Day, accepted my challenge of anonymously sending 10 Valentine’s Day cards to strangers. When we spoke, she said she loved it so much that she’s going to do it year-round. She said it was one of the nicest Valentine’s Days she’d had in a long time. How great is that?

If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you know I often mention the power of random acts of kindness and planned acts of kindness, both for the giver and the receiver. Whatever it is you feel you are lacking or that you long for, incorporating these acts into your life is an awesome way to feel less alone and more plugged into our global family.

So now I’ve got a challenge for you. Over the next week or two, I want you to intentionally practice acts of kindness and come back to this post or the post on my Facebook wall to share your experience. There is such a beautiful domino effect potential here, as I’ve discovered that those who are on the receiving end of these acts tend to pay it forward.

To help get things rolling for you, here are some ideas:

  • Donate blood
  • Cook a meal for your neighbor
  • Write a love letter and send it
  • Open doors for everyone
  • Write a loving message on Post-It notes and stick them around town
  • Over-tip a server
  • Tell a friend how much you appreciate him or her
  • Buy flowers and leave them on someone’s doorstep (anonymously!)

That should get you started! If you want to experience more love and generosity in your life, giving it away is the place to begin.

I look forward to reading your thoughts, experiences, and examples of random kindness in the comments and on Facebook!

13 replies
  1. Cynthia DaCosta
    Cynthia DaCosta says:

    Hi Kerri,
    Loved, loved, loved your story! I read this just after I got home from walking my neighbor’s dogs with my soul feeling so wonderfully fed!

    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Thanks, Cynthia! And look at you… already performing the acts of kindness! I love how you say your soul feels wonderfully fed. I bet your neighbor’s dog’s does too, and your neighbor’s. See that ripple effect?! 🙂

  2. Annie Richardson
    Annie Richardson says:

    Kerri that was so funny and also beautiful. Reminds me of my first flight ever, heading to Ireland, I was sitting beside this sweet elderly, Irish woman who held my hand as we were taking off and telling me not to be afraid. Once we got up in the air, she let go of my hand, took out her rosary beads and blessed herself and said, “Thanks be to Jesus!”

    She let go of her fear to calm me. That was in 1978 and I still think of her.

  3. Kate Robertson
    Kate Robertson says:

    I loved reading your story. I love the valentines day story too. I will take up the random acts of kindness challenge because it really speaks to me.

  4. Kate Robertson
    Kate Robertson says:

    So far I have given extra on restuarant tips and engaged with all the bank tellers and sales associates a little biit more than usual. If you spread happiness you get even more back. This is fun.

  5. Elton
    Elton says:

    I’m not sure why but this blog is loading extremely slow for me. Is anyone else having this issue or is it a issue on my end? I’ll check back later and
    see if the problem still exists.

    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Thanks for checking in, Elton. Yes, there is an issue currently, and I’m working with my host company to resolve it. Hopefully, things will be back to normal soon!


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