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Kindnesses When You Can

“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.” — Babatunde Olatunji

This present is unlike others you may receive now and then. You can’t give it back; and to refuse it is a sin. It isn’t a present that can ever be exchanged. It starts and ends in the dark and can’t be rearranged.

There are but twenty-four hours in this new day you got. That’s quite a few; but it’s not a lot. You may wish for more hours to do all of your stuff; but twenty-four is it and will have to be enough.

If you are disappointed in the few hours given to you, there are fourteen hundred and forty minutes to do what you do. If you don’t carelessly fritter the minutes away, there’s plenty of time for both work and for play.

That’s eighty-six thousand and four hundred seconds to use only for you. It’s certainly your choice; but is that what you’ll do? Do as you will; but consider this plan. Use the four hundred seconds to give kindnesses when you can.

As you consider whether a kindness is necessary, Ralph Waldo Emerson had a point that you may find worth remembering, “You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.” Seneca suggested an additional dimension to kindnesses, “We should give as we would receive, cheerfully, quickly, and without hesitation; for there is no grace in a benefit that sticks to the fingers.” There is also a hidden dimension that only you experience. Charles Lamb described it this way, “The greatest pleasure I know is to do a good action by stealth, and to have it found out by accident.” John Bunyan similarly pointed out this hidden dimension, “A man there was, tho’ some did count him mad, the more he cast away, the more he had.” Hada Bejar put it this way, “The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose.”

The kindnesses you give are of a special type, though. Idries Shah explained the unique quality of kindnesses that truly matter, “If you give what can be taken, you are not really giving. Take what you are given, not what you want to be given. Give what cannot be taken.” Nelson Henderson was a bit more philosophical when adding his insight to the discussion, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” The conclusion is that kindness is but a possibility until you give it to someone who needs it today. Only then does it become a gift to both you and to the person who receives it.

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