The Kindness Boomerang Returns

Kindness Boomerang

There are times when special things happen in our lives without expectation or prior consideration. They aren't tied to our calendar and they aren't part of a prior arrangement. They are special surprises in our lives. Occasions that give me cause to pause and to really consider why they happened. Could they simply be just chance happenings? Some might refer to them as the result of "good karma." I prefer to think of them as the result  of life's kindness boomerang. How and what we put out there determines what and how things come back to us.

When I was a boy, I had my first boomerang experience. Its round-trip flight looked so simple but was incredibly hard to make happen on my own. That slimly cut elbow-shaped piece of wood, with its smooth sides and perfectly rounded edges, seemed to have a mind of its own. Each time I threw it out I would have to run across our expansive front yard to retrieve it. The more I expected it to come back to me and the harder I tried to make it happen, the farther I would have to run. It was only when I wasn't trying so hard to make the boomerang circle back to me that I started to get a feel for the right motion and rhythm. There was a correct speed, a correct angle, and a correct height of release. The more I tossed the boomerang out there, the closer it came to returning to me. Until, on that special but unexpected occasion, it started coming back to me in a way that I could catch it. I don't think I'll ever forget how wonderful that felt.

boomerang

The kindness boomerang works in much the same way. The harder we put it out there and the more we expect it to come back to us, the farther it will fly and the more we find ourselves chasing it. Only when we realize that kindness happens at it's own pace and returns on it's own schedule will we be delighted by it's frequent return. Just as was true with the boomerang of my youth, the more frequently I toss a purposeful act of kindness into the wind of life, and the better I adjust to the correct speed, angle and height, the more delighted I am when it unexpectedly returns.

Family

The kindness boomerang returned to me on at least three occasions that I recognized and felt in the past week. The first was during a visit to a special cousin who, doctors say, is about to move from this life to the next. It turned out that I would be the last to visit him in his hospital room before he was transported home to be surrounded by family and lifelong friends. During our hour together Gary and I shared more personal feelings and memories than we had previously shared in a lifetime. I was there to provide him comfort, respect, and a family connection. What came back to me was wisdom, appreciation and love. Sometimes the kindness boomerang works like that. What I tossed out during that visit came back to me right away without needing to travel too far.

Friends

The second occasion was one of total surprise and delight - causing smiles and happiness all the way around. Last year, due to my active use of Facebook and other social media platforms, I rediscovered a long lost college friend that I hadn't seen or talked with for nearly forty years. Ironically, for the last ten years we've been driving the same streets, enjoying the same lake, and even shared a friendship with one of my Lake Chelan neighbors. When Cindy and I take summer visitors out to a special breakfast at Blueberry Hills Farm, as we do on multiple occasions each summer, we drive right past her house and family orchard. Even the Lady of the Lake, a popular ship that cruises the 55-mile length of our lake on a daily basis, is piloted by her son. How many times have I waved at him without knowing as he has motored past our house or while we passed one another on the lake?

A few nights ago, while taking my evening walk along South Lakeshore Road, a car stopped and a woman carrying a small package got out. She crossed the street to approach me, smiled broadly, and asked, "Are you Rod?"  Wow was I ever surprised. It was Ruth and she was carrying a box of freshly picked blueberries from her farm. She said she thought it was me when she saw the Cougar colors and logo, and because I'd posted photos of my daily walks along the lake shore so many times before. We talked for several minutes, shared a huge hug and promised to get together for a longer visit sometime soon. Thanks to the kindness boomerang... again!

Foreign Lands

Months ago, at the suggestion of an office colleague, I began writing a daily note to one or two US service men and women. I didn't know their names, where they were stationed, or what their situation was. I only knew that they were serving our country in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. When the box of cards was full - each unique and hand written - I included a business card, sealed them, and made them available for distribution. "Oh no," my coworker said, "the troops that I'm aware of are on their way home and there's no longer a way to get these to them."

But the kindness boomerang needed to fly. Marianne found another organization that was sending care packages to men and women in the service. My cards could go to them. It would be fine. And off they went.

This morning, in my email, I found a very unexpected message from Corporal Joshua Green. It began like this... "Hello from Afghanistan! I would first like to thank you for the letter. It's a great feeling to know that we are still appreciated." He continued by saying, "It has been a great experience serving my country for American's like yourself. This is my last tour here (his second) and I'm being honorably discharged from the Marines." Corporal Green went on to share his personal ambitions, dreams, and interests with me. It was a very special kindness boomerang and a great way to start my day.

Are you putting your kindness boomerangs into flight? What's coming back your way?

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The Fine Print

Rod Brooks (that's me) is VP & CMO of PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company and serves as Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).  It's important to disclose both of those relationships and to be clear that this is my personal blog where I share thoughts and opinions that are solely my own.  Contact me!

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