Pay It Forward

I recently received a tremendous gift, something that would be impossible to repay in kind. It was an act of great generosity and I wanted, somehow, to do something for this person that would be helpful and meaningful in return. So I asked him how I could pay him back, and he said, “Please don’t pay me back, pay it forward.”
Pay it forward. I had heard this expression before. It was the title of a movie. And oddly enough, it happened to be playing on HBO shortly after I spoke with my friend.
In the movie, Kevin Spacey plays a social studies teacher who gives his seventh grade class an assignment: Think of an idea to change the world and put it into action.
Haley Joel Osment plays a 12-year-old student in Spacey’s class who comes up with an amazing idea: He’s going to choose three people and do something for them. He tells the class that “it has to be something really big, something they can’t do by themselves.” In turn, they must find three other people and do the same thing, three big favors for three other people, and so on and so on, changing the world by the power of three. That’s how it begins, this boy finds three people who need something they cannot give themselves, and soon, pay it forward begins to spread like a virus.
Now I have been asked to do my part, to pay it forward.
I do plenty of favors for friends and family. But this is something different. Pay it forward is not asking me to do something nice for Aunt Susie. Pay it Forward is asking me to pay attention. It is asking me to become more aware of people and their needs. It is a different sensibility, a reaching out where, before, I might have just turned away. As a result, I find myself sensitized to the needs of others in a new way.
I must admit, I did not expect this result. When I first heard my friend say, “pay it forward,” I thought it would be easy. Not that it’s difficult, but it is a change, or perhaps a better word is shift, in how I use my energy. Now, I’m outer focused instead of inner focused, and while you might think this is a burden, I find it a relief from the endless attention I pay to myself.
I’m also discovering that it’s not a bad way to live. I’ll keep you posted on my progress with what I’m calling this new kind of walking in service. Frankly, I am not very good at it–yet.
Please share your own paying it forward experiences. Your stories would be helpful and interesting to me and to others who read this blog.

One thought on “Pay It Forward

  1. Bayarmaa

    I think youve created some aculatly interesting points. Not too many people would basically think about this the way you just did. Im genuinely impressed that theres so much about this topic thats been uncovered and you did it so properly, with so a lot class. Very good one you, man! Seriously good stuff right here.

Comments are closed.