The Gift of Needs? Really?
My lawn has been turning into a wild field of lush wavy grass. Noticing that all other lawns on my street have been neatly manicured and trimmed, I tried to start the lawnmower last week. No luck.
Following some bizarre inner logic, I decided to just try again the next day. It still didn't work. Then I tried again on Sunday. Still nothing. I texted some friends about how to start a lawnmower and googled the user manual. Nothing helped.
Unable to tell if this was a case of user error or a broken mower, I put out a call for help on our neighborhood social network, Nextdoor: did anyone have recommendations for either a cheap lawn service or lawnmower repair?
One neighbor wrote: "I can send my goat over." (Yup. She did).
Unsure how to take her offer, I was considering welcoming her goat when there was a knock at my door. A family who lived up the road had seen my post and walked over to see if they could help.
I hadn’t expected this at all. I imagined people might send over some phone numbers or advice, but I had not expected three people I hardly knew to show up at my door in person. I was quite moved by this unexpected act of generosity and human contact.
While the dad tinkered with the lawnmower (and fixed it), his 13 year-old son mowed my lawn with their working mower. His mother mentioned that he was looking for practice mowing lawns over the summer: I was delighted. My lawn was totally available for that! Within half an hour, the mower was fixed, my lawn was mowed, and most importantly, I had made new connections in my neighborhood.
My take-aways from this simple act of kindness?
1. I spent the rest of my day energized and imagining who I could help in return. Kindness begets more kindness.
2. I felt an increased sense of connection, trust and safety in my small world. Had I not asked for help, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to connect with my neighbors in this way. Their son was looking for a summer lawn-mowing job, and I was looking for help. Win-Win. My world is richer for the interactions I had this weekend.
3. Giving and receiving are one movement: one reciprocal act. Marshall once said that giving without receiving is a form of domination. I understand that better now. Interdependence thrives in the space where my needs intersect with your desire to give and vice versa. When there is a match, there is also increased joy, trust, connection and safety.
We all benefit. It is not a one-way street.
What acts of kindness might you give, receive, offer and invite this week? I hope you take time to connect deeply with the sense of warmth, delight and tenderness that can arise in these spaces of human contact.
Nothing can replace the joy of seeing and experiencing the impact of our actions in real time.