The other day, my friend Keegan (a fellow traveler and American who you might remember I’d met in Bangalore) wrote me from India asking how my transition back home in the States was going.
I responded with utmost honesty, that I was having difficulty adjusting. I feel lost, this is frustrating, blah blah blah.
He answered sincerely and lovingly, sympathizing with my sentiments. He admitted that my thought process in this transitionary stage and these questions I am asking of myself are some of the same he feels he will face the day he returns home.
But leave it to this guy to flip everything around. Somehow the message ended with a challenge, a favor:
maybe you can do me a favor my love.
maybe you can give this spiritual gangster hypothesis of mine a go?
help me out here.
i need it.
maybe you pay for the car behind you at the next toll booth,
or see if any of the parking meters around you have run out and could use another dollar.
i need you to throw some fucking love out there.
in the first world,
to the first world.
and then holler at your boy.
you got me, or what?
(Ugh he’s so positive and amazing it makes me sick but in the best possible way.)
Immediately I smile. Immediately I feel good. Because immediately I get it. And immediately I look for a way to pay it forward, Keegan style.
Today, I go to a coffee shop to work. When I go to buy my drink, I decide to buy one for a random stranger. I didn’t want some dude/girl already in the shop to think I was hitting on them or something, so I told the guy at the register that I wanted to randomize it and someone buy it for someone who hasn’t yet come in. I wasn’t sure how, but finally we decided that I would pick a drink off the menu, pay for it, and the next person to come in to order it would get it.
I decided to order the most popular, heavily caffeinated drink, because I figured whoever would come in to order it next would need it, either to study or for a long day ahead at work. As he added the name of the order next to my 16 oz. Americano, he asked why. Why was I doing this.
What was my objective, what I was getting out of it. It’s funny how that is our instinctual thought, isn’t it?
I told him that it was really for no reason at all, other than the fact that I just wanted to commit to paying it forward more often, every once in awhile.
So he rings me up for the Black Eye for a future caffeine-seeker, but that’s it. He didn’t ring me up for mine.
I didn’t have words. He addressed my probable look of a confusion with a huge smile.
“I just want to keep this whole pay-it-forward thing going.”
Later that day, my sister and I pulled out cash to give to the elder man who had approached us with his empty gas can in the grocery store parking lot. And also for the man standing by the same gas station holding up a sign outside his van, his child next to him, which read “Need Gas.” I don’t know that I would have stopped to do so, or even let the idea cross my mind, a year ago.
if i want to have access to the love
and light i have found in my travels,
then i should follow THEIR lead.
show love to grow love.
and just have faith.
that what i pay forward
will just gain more and more and more momentum.
crashing into, shattering,
and thus opening,
more and more closed minds.
Dear reader, maybe you could also give this hypothesis a go.