“All I ask of you is one thing: please don’t be cynical. I hate cynicism — it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. As proof, let’s make an amazing thing happen right now.”
These were Conan O’Brien’s final words as he left his 20 year stint with NBC and was essentially fired from The Tonight Show. With all the reasons and support to be angry and seek revenge, he chose to take a different path. It was clear he was short-changed, or even “robbed” of his dream job. I love Conan. He makes me laugh. I held onto those words after I heard them and have been mulling them over in my head repeatedly after an event in my life this week.
My car was broken into and my entire collection of personal belongings were stolen. The thieves took everything from money to ipods, even pictures of my infant son. While this is a common occurrence and I’ve been refunded most of the money these people stole from me and my family, the event has crushed me. I’ve felt feelings for my fellow man I’ve never experienced before. I’ve desired to do the opposite of all the things I’ve taught my young child. As one who loves to give, I’ve felt the desire to hoard. As one who believes that all people, every last one of them, are worthy of love and help, I’ve dealt with emotions of hate and visions of rage.
This is not who I want to be.
I am kind.
I give to strangers, no questions asked. I tell my son, “It’s worth it. Even if they’re scamming you, it’s worth it.”
I want to continue being this person.
These wayward souls have taken much from me. They have violated me and my family. These people stole my son’s Christmas gift certificates and nearly wiped out his elementary school’s PTO checking account. Worst of all, they scared my child, made him feel vulnerable.
I’m tired of being mad and I must stop this train before I become a cynical robot, believing all people are out to get me and always looking out for number one.
My response to these people (today I’m respecting them enough to call them people, yesterday I used those words I tell my son are not acceptable) is to give more than I’ve given before. Give to people who may not deserve it and give with joy. To remind my shattered heart that I was still right and my way is still best. To show these criminals they did not break me. They took my stuff, but they will not find one more cynic in this world as a result.
I first thought of rallying and requesting others join me. Perhaps, collecting money towards one cause. We even thought we could send money to build a clean water well in another country. I was half tempted to just go pass out cash to the men who live under the bridges downtown. But the bottom line is, I’m going to give away money with joy to a cause that needs it, or even one that says they need it. I’m not going to worry about what happens to it or deeply search to determine if there truly was a need in the first place. I’m going to give with joy and trust amazing things will happen.
Why share this? I probably shouldn’t. Giving in secret is the best. The reward is far greater than any acknowledgement could ever be. This time I’m sharing because I thought others might be inspired to do the same. Others might drop their cynicism and be kind, make amazing things happen right now.
So, there’s my call to action. Search your heart and maybe react to my emotions. Consider digging deep and give to someone who says they are in need. Big or little. Whether it’s to an organization who will provide receipts or to the panhandler in the parking lot, just consider giving to someone. Just imagine the impact a few people could make, truly amazing things could happen.
One day I hope I have the chance to give to those who took so much from me. I hope I have the chance to turn the other cheek and be kind to them despite how unkind they were to me. I tell my son this is the way to live.
Until that day, I will continue to give to others and pray I never go back on what I’ve told my son.
“It’s worth it.”