The Grand Risk Experiment Week 3: Accidental Acts of Kindness

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” ~Aesop

A busy week of redistricting inspired uncertainty almost sidetracked the third week of this mission into the outer realms of personal comfort. To be completely honest, this week’s successes were more happy coincidence than concentrated effort. However, with any successful endeavor one can only get so far without a little bit of chance. Fortunately, the powers that be smiled on this week’s mission and once again victory was captured from the jaws of defeat. And, as always, unexpected lessons arose from relatively mundane requests.

Lesson 1. Sometimes the best you can do is point some one in the right direction. As I was wandering through an expansive outdoor shopping mecca in an illustrious Minnesota suburb, I was interrupted by a man looking for a store with a name unfamiliar to me. The problem was, I had little knowledge of the area in question. However, rather than abandon this fellow “Raider of the Lost Store,” I instead used my knowledge of the area to make an educated guess and point him in the general direction I thought he should go. Low and behold, as I satisfied my consumer Wanderlust I found both the man’s vehicle and the store in question on the path I had suggested. While occasionally choosing poorly has its consequences, most often utilizing the little knowledge one has in life to give advice is worth the potential awkwardness that comes with its uncertainty.

Lesson 2. Sometimes emotional sympathy is more important than making the logical choice. The next ball of fate thrown into my path during weekend’s journey towards kindness involved a likely panhandler making her way up and down the cold walkways of Nicollet Avenue. Most of the time, when solicited for money by the random person on the street my first reaction is to flee the scene lest more like-minded individuals descend upon me like some sort of zombie horde. However, in this case, the woman in question was visibly crying and had a compelling story regarding the loss of her purse and the need for bus fare to get home. While, this was most likely another fabricated back story created to convince me to part with the meager cash in my possession, it occurred to me rather than reject her pleas due to the potential for dishonesty, the human thing to do was to give her the benefit of the doubt and help out a fellow human in need. Do I think this means, we should give everyone who asks us for money a hand out? Not in the least bit. However, I do think it behooves us to take a moment and remember selfless generosity and human sympathy is far more important than the cost of losing a few bucks to a dishonest individual.

Lesson 3. Sometimes it is the thought that counts. While perhaps a trite saying, it’s an important thing to remember nonetheless. For example, today I was approached by two men as I was sitting in my car. My first reaction was to make like a tree and get out of there, before I found myself the victim of a carjacking. After suppressing my emergency flight response system, I decided to hear them out, and it turned out they were trying to change tire and needed a tool to loosen the bolts. After letting them use my tire iron, and we realized it was not the droid they were looking for, I felt like I let them down. However, sometimes the best you can do is offer help, even if sometimes it’s not quite enough. While nine times out of ten having the right intention gets the job done, there will always be that one time where it won’t. The key is accepting this truth and proceeding forward anyway.

Despite the passive nature of these acts, a great deal was learned and the grand risk experiment continued unabated. Having the willingness to offer help, sympathizing with the human condition, and realizing sometimes there is only so much we can do are important thing to consider as one progresses through life. Furthermore, it would seem doing nice things for people we do not know is a pretty simple task as long as we keep an eye out for the opportunity. Especially in comparison to something like, say, asking for someone’s phone number for example…

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