October 15, 2007

A Birthday Surprise

Jerry says his twelth birthday was his best ever. It was certainly full of surprises! The day before his birthday he received a card, completely out of the blue, from a family we had met at family camp last August. There was a check for $120.00 in it! $120.00!!! We hadn't spoken to this family since camp ended. It was such a wonderful, exciting, out of the blue thing for Jerry to find in the mail box.

He knew exactly what he wanted to buy with it. An electric guitar. So we went over to Guitar Center that same day and he bought a Les Paul junior. Jerry kept it a secret from his dad all day, so that when Warren got home he would be surprised. Boy was he!

When I told friends and family about the check almost everyone's first reaction was "That's weird." Isn't it sad the way we just can't wrap our heads around receiving gifts or sometimes even kind gestures from people we don't know very well? How fabulous for that family, to be in a position to surprise a twelve-year-old boy on his birthday. And how nice for Jerry to be on the receiving end of such kindness. It's not weird. It's wonderful!

There's a hilarious book by Danny Wallace called Join Me that addresses this very topic (among other things). Wallace placed an ad in a freebie newspaper that just said, "join me." He didn't say what joinees we're joining him for, just that they were to send a passport photo to his address if they were interested. The photos started pouring in. Before he knew it Wallace found himself leading a cult, only he had no idea what the cult was meant to do.

After much thought, and a few pints, Wallace created a first assignment for his followers'. It was simple. "Make an old man happy." They were to buy a random old man a cup of tea, pay for his bus fare, that kind of thing, and they did. Many of them even documented these acts with photos. Eventually, Wallace extended these random acts of kindness to everyone, regardless of age or gender, and the Karma Army was born. Wallace's followers would strive to practice one random act of kindness each week. The only stipulation was that it had to be random, unexpected, and kind.

As long as I'm on the subject of Danny Wallace his second book was just as good as "Join Me." It's called Yes Man. In this book Danny has taken the advice of a stranger on a bus who suggested he "say yes more." But instead of saying yes "more" he decides he'll say it all the time--to everything. It's laugh out loud funny but the book really gets you thinking about where a simple "yes" can lead.

I guarantee that if you read both of these books you'll say yes more and leave some surprised strangers feeling grateful, even if they do think you're a complete lunatic.

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