Photo by opensource.com under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0
I recently had an experience that, for me, redefined the phrase “…put in my two cents…”. One day I stopped by a grocery store I rarely visit. After finding what I needed, I stepped up to a register behind a petite, elderly woman buying a few things. When the clerk finished ringing her up, the woman took out her money and found that she was two cents short. There was no penny bowl in sight and the clerk was silent, so I said I had two cents to share, taking them out of my purse. I handed the pennies to the clerk, who looked indifferent, while the woman gaped at me for a moment, then she gushed, “Oh, thank you; that’s so kind of you!” She stood still a moment, looking thoughtful. “I’ve never had anyone do such a thing for me before!”. I smiled at her and wished her a great day. She smiled back, repeated her thanks, and left. It seemed to me that she had received so much in those two cents! I know I did; her gift of gratitude enriched the rest of my day and changed how I think about small acts of sharing.
A couple of days later, while clearing out some things in my studio, I found a collection of little inspiration cards. The size of business cards, they have black and white images behind a short poem, blessing, or words of wisdom; each of the 52 cards is unique. I decided to put them in the give-away box downstairs, but the cards sat on the corner of my writing desk for a week, snagging my attention from time to time. I realized that I wanted to juice them up a little before passing them on, and I was unsure how I would do that. My answer came later that day.
I was looking through my Facebook timeline when I saw a post about “International Pay It Forward Flash Mob” and I was instantly intrigued. I love the whole flash mob thing, and had been eager to participate in one for the past couple of years. The flash mob would occur worldwide on October 11, 2014, at 1pm Pacific Time. No ordinary song and dance flash mob, the action was to “pay it forward” in some way; for example, pay for the person behind you at the coffee shop, gas station, or grocery line, or do a good deed to benefit another. In general, step out in selfless generosity. I felt a flash of energy zip through my body, knowing that I would use the cards to participate in the flash mob.
I had several days to put it together. I decided to wrap each card in a dollar bill and secure it with a paper clip. At first hesitant to use only a dollar, I then remembered the great feeling evoked from the 2 cents; I decided that I’d rather share all 52 cards with a dollar each than just a few with 5’s. At the end of each day, I took out all of the singles from my wallet and wrapped cards, reading each one before attaching the dollar. I wondered if the people receiving the cards would connect in some meaningful way with what was written, or if they would laugh, or pass them on to someone they knew. I loved the daily ritual; one afternoon I read the following on a card: “Course correction is returning to your lifepath’s arc and trajectory. Error correction is trying to fix a blind spot too late to repair.” I thought about that passage and how it related to my life. Considering how each type of correction had impacted my life story, I felt deeply grateful for the healing I’d found in course correction, while I appreciated the sometimes hard lessons learned through attempts at error correction.
On International Pay It Forward Day, I took my daughter to a friend’s home to babysit. I visited with my friend, enjoying a mandarin from her fruit bowl. She had more than enough for her family, so she invited me to take some home with me. I gratefully accepted and told her about my fun plan to share little blessings during the flash mob. She loved the idea and suggested that I could write “pay it forward” on each bill, so when I got home I used a red pen to thus annotate each dollar. I put some of the the mandarins in a bowl, topped them with homemade banana muffins and went out to share them with the people on the farm where I live. I then gathered up the paper gifts and headed out to the greater community where I live to sprinkle them around town. I’m still feeling happy and grateful for the synchronicity of this time of sharing and my desire to be of service, moving energy for the benefit of others. Yes, even just one dollar at a time!
I slipped several cards under windshield wipers or through open windows of parked cars, I tucked some into crevices in the bark of trees at the town plaza, and I left others on empty sidewalk tables on Main Street. I tucked one under the handset of a pay phone and left two in the washrooms of the public library. I handed a few of them over to clerks in shops I visited and people I met on the street. I gave the last card to a man seated on a shady bench next to his bicycle. I almost passed by him when our eyes met and we shared a smile; he had a calm face and kindness shone in his blue eyes. I veered off the path to the left and approached him, handing him the dollar wrapped card and saying that I had a little gift for him. He took it, looked at it and smiled, saying, “It always comes back to us, doesn’t it?” He held the gift up high and said, “No matter what, every day, something always happens to show me that I will have dinner this day. “
Feeling moved by his statement, I expressed what I thought it represented. “Doesn’t it feel great to have faith that the Universe always supports us?” He said that for him, it goes beyond faith. He said that it’s just what he knows is real and true, every day.
Later that day I opened my timeline on Facebook and I saw a photo of one of the gifts I’d made! I was surprised by the image, and delighted to see that it was posted by one of my friends. When I looked closer, I could read what was on the card, which had been pulled out enough to reveal the words printed there: “Course correction is returning to your lifepath’s arc and trajectory. Error correction is trying to fix a blind spot too late to repair.”
I’ll leave you with these two inquiries: What methods of correction do you bring into your life and how well do they work? What is your two cents worth?