November the ‘tween month; in between autumn colors and Halloween and the bright lights and Christmas. November is Movember, a no-shave month for men that focuses on men’s health, specifically cancer. November is Thanksgiving. How could I forget the turkey, pumpkin pie, football, and an all-day food coma!
Thanksgiving is more than turkey and football. We all know the story of the Pilgrims and Indians and the first days of thanksgiving. Did you know that it wasn’t until 1863, during the Civil War, that Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday? Thankfulness has a long tradition in America.
I have been thinking about thankfulness this month. I am posting 30 days of thankfulness on Facebook. I am reading Mark Manson’s book Everything is F*cked, A book about Hope. Earlier this year I read Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. His in-your-face unapologetic style challenges me to look at hope and thankfulness in a new way.
I joined a Facebook group, Human Kindness Project. Their invite posed two questions. Are you tired of all the negativity in the world and on social media like me? Are you ready to be the change you wish to see in the world around you? I am changing how I use social media in the coming election year. This mission of this group is at the heart of why I am making this change.
I come across acts of kindness and kind people traveling long distances by bike. There is something magical traveling at the speed of a bicycle. It immerses you in the culture and lives of people and places that do not happen at the speed of a car or plane.
My most memorable experience of kindness was on a tour from Washington D.C. to Pittsburgh. I was rinsing the mud and grime off my bike in Connellsville. A couple asked the standard questions about traveling by bike. I said I was cycling from Washington D.C. to Pittsburgh to raise funds for a cancer charity. They were amazed that a person could cycle that far, a typical response from non-cyclists.
I headed out to dinner later in the day. I walked past the couple getting in their truck. Three blocks later, I arrived at the restaurant where they were parking their truck. They somehow felt they had to apologize to me for driving three blocks. They did not know it was so close to the hotel.
Inside waiting to be seated, they invited me to join them. Sharing a meal changed my lonely dinner to a delightful time. I learned about their love of traveling to new places and visiting small towns and festivals to learn more about people and traditions. We had similar joys; theirs was in a truck and mine was on a bike.
We finished our meals. I asked the server for my check. They had paid theirs. The couple told me that they picked up the tab. They admired my positive attitude, kindness, and my ability to cycle for a cause. I protested that I was not a special person and that the $25 tab was way too much for them to pay. They said this was how they share goodness and asked me to do the same.
This learned several things from that encounter in Connellsville. You should never prejudge people by their appearance. You should not judge people by broad biased categories. Kindness and unselfishness are alive in this world. You can make a big difference in someone’s life with a seemingly small act of kindness.
“When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” — Maya Angelou
I need to be that caring person in my life.