Ego be Damned: True Altruism

With Thanksgiving on the horizon, I’ve got a heartfelt thanks… and a valuable message to set in the center of tables.

To the message: There are many ways to give. I’m thinking back on a day when a woman noticed the rough time I was having. Without parceling off the incremental details of this day, I’ll never forget this woman who tugged her husband’s arm as they headed to their car. She said something to him before turning around and asking if I needed help. She didn’t have to do that. She could have ignored what was happening and continued on with her day.

Another of my favorite giving reminiscences is the paying it forward at toll booths. One day I rolled up to a toll, when EZ-Pass was on its ancient system, to be surprised when the attendant waved me on by. Of course she first had to explain that the motorist in the vehicle ahead of me paid my fare. After mentioning this to my mother she explained the new fad…how some motorists were paying it forward at toll booths. I liked that altruistic act so much that I tried it myself a few times. I got a kick out of watching from my rearview mirror the vehicle behind having to get schooled by the attendant the same way I had.
There was another time when I took the altruism a step further. One evening I was standing in a grocery checkout line behind a couple who didn’t have enough money to pay for their groceries. As they discussed items to put back, I told the cashier I would pay the amount they were short.

And then there is my favorite story…the day I bumped into a customer I met at work. I was on my way into Macy’s and she headed the other way when she stopped to show me her new bundle of joy. “Aww…she’s so cute,” I cooed, glibly adding, “I wished I could keep her…” The rest of the story is today’s history. At the time however, my husband asked, “how are you going to babysit a baby when you already have a job. Well, I managed to do it… for two years I wouldn’t trade for anything.

One thing I can positively say about altruism. It feels as good to give as it does to receive. I’m especially big on random acts of kindness, whereas I struggle to embrace mindless acts of giving. It is hard to feel good knowing there are people starving 365 days a year around the clock. I don’t have to ask, or wonder what hungry people feel on days when help is closed. Shoe having been on the other foot I know. Me, and those in close proximity to me were grateful, eternally grateful, especially around Thanksgiving to receive, but if ever there is a cause to give my all to fix, this is it.

Now, my nose is not so glued in books that I don’t get why reading is the very last necessity people think about when focused on keeping food on the table and a shelter in place. I do get it. It’s one of the reasons I am so patient about inspiring reading. I know for a fact my head was not in books then, the way it is today. I simply could not spare a few days…or even a few hours…barely a few minutes to think about more than what was going to happen the next day.

But now I’m a finger-licking reading connoisseur. Finding the right book is key, which I’ve been sacrificing many cool points (for 5 plus years) drawing attention to reading. I never would have believed reading works like a light at the end of dark tunnels.

This year I give a heartfelt thanks to the authors whose stories lifted my spirits and made me physically feel better. The titles are listed below. Ten will make my 2015 Favorites List. My hope is readers get as much as I did out of the reading experience, and pass the entire list forward!

A Bridge Between by Velia Pola
At Home on the Steppe by Janet Givens
Black Man in a White Coat by Damon Tweedy
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
Chicken Soup for the African American Soul
Desperate to be a Housewife by Meg Bortin
Grace Revealed by Greg Archer
I Am Charlie Wilson by Charlie Wilson
I’ll Never Write My Memoirs by Grace Jones
Life With No Breaks by Nick Spalding
Losing Our Way by Bob Herbert
Mayor for Life by Marion Barry
Night by Elie Wiesel
On Call in Hell by Cdr. Richard Jadick
Really Cher? by Julian M. Coleman
Sweet Summer by Bebe Moore Campbell
The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson
The Last Blind Date by Linda Yellin
The Lobster Chronicles by Linda Greenlaw
The Truth About Awiti by CP Patrick
Thou Shalt Not Steal by by Bill "Ready" Cash and Al Hunter Jr.
True You by Janet Jackson
Until Tuesday by Luis Carlos Montalván
7:17 by Rayna Gray