Sunday, October 16, 2011

I found the meaning of Pay it Forward.... 11 years later.

The sun isn't even up yet, but I have a story to tell. 

I was sitting there last night, flipping through the channels, hoping to find something good to watch.  I saw a movie was just about to start called:
Pay it forward.  
That sounded so familiar.  I've heard Oprah say that phrase a hundred times, something about doing good deeds for others.  So I looked at the movies description.  It was a movie made in 2000,  based on a book, starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt and that kid from Secondhand Lions. 
I started thinking, Oprah did a show about this movie too so it must be good.   I had never seen the movie and so I only have a vague memory of the Oprah show from that day.  But what I remembered was stories of  people that were given money by Oprah to give to strangers.  The people they gave the money to were told to pass on the good deed/pay it forward to 3 other people.  That's about all I knew.  

I was hooked into this movie right from the beginning.  It tugged at my heartstrings.  I just never felt I had much to give others.  I was so intrigued that during a commercial, I went on my computer and looked up "Oprah, pay it forward", and sure enough, she HAD done a show about this movie, in October, 2006.

Ah haaa!!!  

That's why I probably only 1/2 ass watched it.  2006 was the worst year of my life.   I probably saw people even less fortunate than me, people more deserving than me, get what I had hoped for, an angel like Oprah coming to save the day.  I was probably a little jealous and only saw myself as why couldn't we be one of the recipients?  I never thought I could be one of the givers, those people had money from Oprah to give away.
Well, the commercial was over, so I went back to watching the movie.  The kid helped a homeless junkie.  Brought him right into his home.  But that's not what got to me.  It was what the homeless guy did that got to me.  He used his car fixing skills to help the kids mom.  Then he told her all about her sons idea, to help 3 people, pay the good deed forward.  I realized, hey, I could do something good for others, who says I need money?  If this guy can do it, surely I can.  Same with the drunk lady in the movie that played Helen Hunt's mom.  She gave a guy a ride when he needed it most.  I thought, I have a car, I could do that.  Maybe not help a criminal escape, but I could give someone a ride.

Commercial time again.  I went back on the computer and typed in Pay It Forward.  I left out the word Oprah this time because I wanted to read about the book during this commercial, find out if it was a true story.  What came up shocked me.  I saw links to the Pay It Forward FOUNDATION.  The Pay It Forward NATIONAL MOVEMENT, etc.
I found out that this book, written by Catherine Ryan Hyde, wasn't based on a true story, yet the story was so inspiring, how we can change the world, make it a better place, one person at a time, that it had become a friggin national movement!  Where had I been?  Oh yeah, WALLOWING.
Then, at the end of the movie, the kid who started it all gets stabbed and dies.  That sucked.  I cried my eyes out.  My husband and kids have never seen the movie and didn't understand why I was upstairs crying.  I told them this was another life changing movie I had just seen.  They rolled their eyes at me.  I had recently watched Eat Pray Love with Julia Roberts for the first time and announced that if my husband ever leaves me that's what I'm going to do, go explore the world for a year, go to India & Nepal.  Maybe meet with the Dali Lama.

Then this movie came on TV tonight and I had a new realization:

I don't need to go anywhere. 
I can help change the world from the suburbs of Chicago.  
I can find my fulfillment by helping others.  

The people in this movie were doing kindness for others through their own individual abilities.  I have abilities, though limited.  I can make people laugh, smile.  I might be able to talk someone off a bridge like that homeless guy in the movie, or at least give them encouragement.  I could forgive someone I never thought I could.  I can give of myself.  

After watching this movie,  instead of saying, why me, I'm saying WHY NOT ME?  Why can't I be one of the do good-ers?  That would be better than being a recipient.  Being a giver.  Just like the bible says, its better to give than to receive. 

And here's another thought I had, why do I need to stop at 3 people?  I don't.  I give a dollar here and there to homeless people all the time.  Maybe next time, I'll stop and talk to them, ask them what they need.  Maybe it's something I can help with.  Maybe I'll bring them a plate of something homemade I've cooked, or offer them some of my clothes so they can find a job.  I can cook, I have extra clothes.  Who knows?  The possibilities are endless!  I feel inspired.

My friend Tina called and I told her about this new adventure.  She said, "Bev, what are you talking about?  I've known you for 30 years and you have always tried to give to everyone you meet, in some way.  You're one of the most generous, kindest people I know.  What do you mean NOW you're going to start giving?"  That was so sweet of her!  I haven't even started and my heart feels warm from her words, because of all of this, just the mere idea of it all.  I guess what I mean is that now I'm going to try to do this on a conscious level everyday.  I'm going to try and follow the rules of Pay It Forward:
I didn't sleep well last night, I couldn't wait to get started on this next part of my life, this next adventure.  I've stopped wondering why I couldn't be one of the recipients, and I'm joining the world of givers.

I don't need to go to India to find my new purpose, I think an 11 year old movie, about an 11 year old boy, based on a fiction, just helped me to do that.

The sun is up now.  
Time to get started.
Hopefully stories of good deeds done will follow.