Counting is one of our first learning adventures and we all successfully master it. The process adds up numbers and puts things in order.
Dr. Seuss masterfully helped us with his simple rhymes and clever picture books.
“One fish two fish…red fish blue fish…”
Before that, Mother Goose assisted generations with her poetry.
“One, two, buckle my shoe; three, four shut the door; five, six, pick up sticks; seven, eight, lay them straight…”
My precocious grandson took to numbers at an early age. Max understood the system of tens and ones and soon he was counting up to forty.
“What comes next? he asked his Dad.
His father, a teacher, explained that the fifties came next.
Satisfied with the response, Max asked, “And when do I get to stop?”
Without considering the impact of his answer, my son-in-law gave his son the straight, simple response, “Never, you just keep counting.”
Alarmed by the thought of continuously reciting numbers for the rest of his life, little Max blurted out in utter frustration, “You mean that I can never stop counting?!”
Ah, infinity is a difficult concept for a 3 1/2 year-0ld!
As adults, we keep track of various, important statistics in our daily lives. At work we carefully monitor our allotted vacation days and sometimes we even start a count-down before a special trip. As we get older, our blood pressure and cholesterol numbers are important to monitor our health. Credit scores are figures that are critical when we want to buy a house or a car. So, there are some instances when we need to focus on the numbers and keep score.
But what we don’t need to do is to keep track of our acts of kindness and generosity. We should never leave our hand extended when we are giving, expecting something in return. The thank-you should not outweigh the gift. Those who keep score will always come up short because the return is never enough. We should remember that it is best to give from our hearts, not just from our wallets. A kind word, a genuine smile, and a warm hug are all treasured gifts to give.
“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” (Khalil Gibran)
If you really want to feel the impact of giving, try a random act of kindness. Assist a complete stranger with the loading of groceries in the car. Allow a person who is in a hurry to go ahead of you in line. Say “hello” to more people on your daily travels and smile more.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have potential to turn a life around.” (Leo Buscaglia)
Ultimately we are measured by our deeds in life, not by our possessions. They represent our true wealth. People remember when someone takes the time to connect, to be nice, and to care without asking for something in return. At my husband’s funeral, I was comforted by strangers who wanted to express their thanks for David’s moments of kindness. Former clients were grateful for his pro-bono work. The stationary store employee shared her stories about his weekly visits and their friendly conversations. People from the community wanted me to know what a kind and caring man he was and to say ” thank you”. Of course I already knew who he was, and I was proud to respond, “You are welcome.” on his behalf.
“The best portion of a good man’s life; his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.” ( William Worsdworth)
When Max gives me hugs and kisses he is not counting them. He is not waiting for something in return. My grandson is sharing his unconditional love and I am as happy to receive it as he is to give it. May we all try and maintain that level of innocent, human kindness and stop keeping score and waiting for a payback.
“If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give.” (George Mac Donald)
Keep giving with an open heart and a closed hand!