RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS WINNERS
A CALMING HAND
By Jennifer Donhauser
Every once in a while, a person appears in our lives to deliver a much-needed message of guidance. Such a being came into my life about six years ago, when I was in the process of going to graduate school to obtain my masteršs degree in counseling. It was a very intense time in my life. I was a newly-single parent who had just moved 2,000 miles, raising two small boys on my own. Being physically challenged added an extra measure of experience to the endeavor of negotiating a large Connecticut campus.
I was on a mission to get my degree and open a private practice to support my little family. It was a time of tunnel vision. I had things that I needed to accomplish. I was bound and determined that nothing was going to stop me. I believe that at times this led me to great periods of frustration and periods of extreme aloneness in my purpose and direction. Also, probably feeling rather selfish and self-centered as well. It also created a great tension and stress within, which had always aggravated my physical situation and made walking and maneuvering much more difficult.
It was a fascinating time in my life. I had an opportunity to study myself and how I reacted to struggle and determination, and how I use those to my benefit. But also, how at times that stress, tension and struggle took a toll on me physically. It this atmosphere of realizing certain things about myself and learning to adjust to a new way of being, I had an experience one day that gave me a wonderful universal insight into what I needed to do to accomplish my goal with a more calm, appreciative frame of mind.
It was late one night after school. It had been a long day of tension, struggling to classes, a lot of walking, a lot of mental strain, and I was very tired. I walked down the long hall and was aware that I kept falling. I couldnšt seem to keep upright and straight. When I get into that mode with my physicality, I get very frustrated. So the more I fell, the more difficulty I had walking, and the more frustrated I became. I finally managed to get down the six flights of stairs and out into the public parking lot. As I was walking I fell again in the middle of the parking lot. Well, that was the last straw. I felt totally humiliated, dejected, depressed and beaten. I remember just sitting there crying. All of the years that I had been doing this were beginning to really take a toll on me. I thought this evening was about everything just coming to a head.
I sat there and tried to gather my senses and my abilities. From out of nowhere this guy walked up to me. He had an air of calm and peacefulness about him. There was a complete lack of judgment in his presence. He just reached out his hand and I felt this wonderful floor of calm rush over me as if he had somehow transferred the peacefulness into me. And all he had to do was reach out his hand, which I took, and I kind of glided up to my feet. He said "May I walk you to your car?" and I said "Yes." That is all we said. He walked me to my car and there was a new ease in my walking that I really appreciated. His calm, his gift to me, had allowed me to release the frenetic energy and replace it with a sense of accomplishment and sure steady movement.
I got into the car and said "Thank you, thank you so very much, God bless you." He asked if I was going to be able to get home alright and I said "Yes, I will be fine." Again I said thank you. He left. He had not imposed himself on me in any way and I remember thinking, God bless that man and I hope he has a wonderful life. All the way home I prayed for him, blessed him, thanked him and wished him well.
An interesting adjunct to this story is that many people have tried to help me over my years of adventure. What is interesting is that many times, however, when people help they help without asking. Sometimes the help is not useful or productive. Then my situation becomes much more difficult. But this man, in his wonderful moment, one random act of kindness, had shown me an incredible gift of love and acceptance. I learned to allow someone just to help me without making any excuses for myself or protesting the assistance. I had always felt I needed to do things myself, to be independent and not to appear needy. This gentleman, with his awareness, seemed to know exactly what to do without demanding and without insisting that he help me his way. He allowed me to accept his help graciously.
I always get a little choked up when I tell this story to groups and others because it is such an incredibly beautiful example of pure giving without any expectation of return. It was a wonderful gift to myself as well. I allowed him to help me. So kind man, wherever you are, I again send you blessings and a thank you. I will continue to keep moving and going forward.
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