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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Reflections: It's not all about me.

I gave up on giving up cussing for Lent early in the Lenten season.  Frankly, it made no sense.  What was I supposed to do come Easter, drop F-bombs all day long?  Today is a feast day, and it just seemed pointless to give up something like a slight case of potty mouth for 40 days, only to feast on this "pleasure" all day long today (though I did make an effort to cut back some, which is a good thing).

So I tried something new this year: instead of giving something up that I liked for Lent, like chocolate or wine (slightly selfish, if you ask me, since you'll just gorge on it on Easter), I decided to do at least one good deed per day for someone else.

It was nothing big, of course.  No grand philanthropic gestures or building houses for the masses; just little things that made a difference to someone else.  Letting the elderly couple take my seat on a crowded light rail train while everyone else let them stand; helping a coworker with a difficult task even though I was on deadline with something equally taxing; smiling & saying hello to some sad looking stranger as I walk down the street (and I'm very NYC in that respect; I usually ignore everyone when I'm walking).

Little things.  Once, twice, even eight times per day.  It felt good doing them.

And in a way I realized I was giving something up for Lent: self-centeredness.  Not that I'm the biggest offender of this, of course; sadly, I can rattle off the names of about four people I know very well who make me look like Mother Theresa.  But like many people in this day & age of having the latest iGadget, or the nicest outfit & manicure, or getting the most likes & re-tweets on Facebook & Twitter respectively, just to get some sort of virtual validation for every single thought, photo, or sneeze that's posted, it's easy to get wrapped up in oneself.  Yours truly included, as much as I try not to think only of myself.  It's just so easy to think of everything in terms of "me" instead of "we" or "them".

THEM.  Do we ever think about other people anymore?

Now that it's Easter, I could stop all my good deeds and go back to ignoring people on the street, or focusing on my work deadlines, or staying seated while some tiny 700 year old man with a cane struggles to find his balance on an unsteady train, just so I can sit & nurse my own painful knee.  After all, isn't that what you "get to do" on Easter?  Go back to your old ways, indulging in everything you'd given up for those 40 days, forgetting all those promises you made when you were trying to be all good & pious?

I could do that.  It would be easy.  It always has been.

But it just felt so good to make someone else's day, no matter how small the deed done, that I don't think I can stop.  I don't want to stop.  To hear a "thank you" from someone who truly meant it, the timbre of genuine gratitude in his voice not unnoticed, to make someone's day a little easier, a little brighter, a little less difficult; the feeling you get from it is almost euphoric.

And I don't want to keep doing this just for me, just so that I can feel good; that feeling is just a fun by-product of helping someone else. I want to do it for THEM.  For you.  For my mom, my dad, my friends, my coworker, the toothless homeless dude on the street, the hungry stray kitty on my doorstep.  I want to continue to think in terms of everyone, not just me.  We don't do this enough anymore, and that's a shame.

So today, on Easter, I'm still reflecting, I'm still conscious of how my actions affect others, and will make an effort to help someone else in some small way.  And I'll continue to do so tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.  After all, personal reflection & overall kindness shouldn't be a once-a-year thing; they should be year 'round!

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Kimberly A. Morales
singer. writer. artist. champagne taste, 2 buck chuck budget. good cook. kooky. chocoholic. patron saint of cats. talker. listener. thinker. sometimes to a fault.
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