An act of kindness
“You have to give back to others”. That was an act of kindness that my Uber driver spoke about on the morning of Christmas Eve. I asked him what his secret was to living 80 healthy years. I was actually surprised when he told me he how old (I should say how young) he was going to be. He was an outlier by Uber driver standards. Most of the drivers I’ve come across have been men that look to be between the ages of 20-40 years.
He also offered me other nuggets of advice that I accepted with eager ears. Things like, eat plenty of fruits & vegetables, study the Bible, eat very little meat & dairy, and be physically active. We continued to converse, exchanging tidbits about our lives. Like how he had to care for his wife when she got sick & eventually passed away and how he used to work in research but now volunteers to help young children in need.
I told him I was originally from the Philippines. My family moved to Guam and then settled in California. As soon as I paused, he asked about moringa, a leafy green tree that is native to Southeast Asia. He heard about its health benefits and learned this from his Filipino friends. “We call it malunggay”, I told him. We use the small, round leaves to flavor main dishes. He wanted to learn how to cook it and I said the quickest way is to invite yourself over to a Filipino friend’s house and see how it’s done.
My ride ended abruptly, and I headed off to my flight from Miami International Airport to LAX in Los Angeles, so I could make it home for Christmas. He bid me farewell, with a warm paternal voice, as he pulled my luggage out of his trunk. I told him to take care and have a Merry Christmas.
In under 15 minutes, I learned the life story of a complete stranger. Yet it felt like I had known him my whole life. I don’t know exactly what possessed me to open up to him. Normally, I am a shy and reserved person. Perhaps it was the geniune smile on his face when he opened the door for me. Or the friendly tone in his voice when he greeted me. What I did know, was that it felt uplifting and not at all awkward.
I made it home in time for our Christmas Eve party. We had dinner and then exchanged gifts. Rather than wait until Christmas morning, all the parents caved when the children begged to open their gifts. Who could say no to their excited little faces? We all sat and watched as my 3 boys and their 2 cousins opened their gifts that night.
Their squeals of delight were so infectious that it permeated the entire room. In that beautiful moment, you couldn't feel cross or troubled even if you tried. I love receiving beautiful gifts as much as the next person, but even if I didn't receive a single thing, this felt very satisfying.
Suddenly, the conversation I had with my Uber driver earlier in the day, came back to me. I was sorry I couldn’t remember his name, but I remembered his advice about giving back to others. It was the same feeling I had as I watched the kids open their Christmas gifts.
Giving back, an act of kindness
I understood now why he said, "You have to give back to others." Giving back to others is not an unequal transaction. If it is genuine, it is a mutual exhange of joy, for both the giver and receiver. It is an act of kindness with no bounds or limits.
My Uber driver and I could not have been more different, yet our stories transcended the age, gender and racial divide. What I received from him was priceles wisdom procured over a lifetime of experience. I, on the other hand, was happy that he was willing to listen to stories of my humble past.
The narrative thread that connected us was just one act of kindness amongst a handful. It began with a simple hello. Followed by mindful attention, acknowledgment, laughter and smiles. Then ended with heart felt adieus.
The lesson I learned from my Uber driver was a surprising but wonderful revelation. An act of kindness doesn't have to be a large, charitable donation, or an expensive gift you bought to give away to a loved one. We need kindness now in this age of increased anxiety, fear, "social distancing" and "stay at home" more than ever. Giving back doesn't have to cost you a thing. It could be as simple as sharing a laugh, saying a simple thank you or even sharing life stories with an Uber driver.
Related article: 50 KINDNESS IDEAS FOR RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS DAY
Here are 7 simple but powerful ways you can share an act of kindness with others that don’t cost a thing.
Smile. You don’t have to say anything. A simple smile might make someone else's day.
Say hello. This simple greeting can also put a smile on someone's face.
Ask how their day is going.
Say thank you. A genuine expression of gratitude goes a long way.
Hold the door open for someone.
Post a positive note on social media.
Read a story to a child.
Related article: Acts of kindness | What they are and how they benefit.
Thank you so much. Please share your uplifting stories of an act of kindness you received or gave to others.