Pay it Forward…

Respond to a person’s kindness to oneself by being kind to someone else.
“I will take the support I have had and try to pay it forward whenever I can”
It’s a wonderful way to live and, quite frankly, one of the few paths towards achieving  a modicum of enlightenment in our respective paths in life.
After driving two days to our modest Florida bungalow near the pristine white sand beaches of the Gulf Coast, we learned of a young family whose home had been devastated by the recent hurricane that hit around the Panama City area.   We were tired from the drive and from a few days spent on a full kitchen renovation project, but when we learned of this family’s plight, we naturally volunteered to help them retrieve what belongings were not destroyed by this powerful storm.
… why, it could easily have hit us!
And as we approached the area, we began to see what winds topping out at 155mph can do…   In my 58 years on this planet, with all of the traveling we have done here in the US and abroad, we had never seen anything quite like this.
A week after the storm made landfall, entire forests of pines were snapped, all leaning in the direction of the wind, some structures were blown apart, and power lines were down where they fell.  Simply incredible.
Then, as we pulled into the family’s neighborhood and parked, we noticed the eerie sounds of an army of chain saws, helicopters buzzing overhead, and non-stop sirens.
The poor family’s home, while still standing, had sustained terrible damage on their roof causing rain to compromise ceilings in many of their rooms, filling the main living area full of blown insulation.   Then, we noticed the unmistakeable smell of mold…
Much of the family’s belongings were salvageable, but some were not.  And toward the end of the day, while trying to be discrete and respect this family’s privacy, I looked into the wife’s eyes and the stress of this event were clear, despite her strength through the ordeal.
In the end, of course, these calamities typically bring forth the best and (sadly) the worst of people.   The group of us, however, made the most of this difficult situation and found ways to laugh as we struggled to fill up U-Hauls and trailers of belongs in the stifling heat of the day.
Funny what we take for granted.   Perhaps the silver lining of such disruption to our lives is to remind ourselves how fortunate we are in 99% of our days.
Pay it forward, as the saying goes.   Each day presents little ways to do it… preparing us for the thankfully rare time when we rally to help our fellow man in much bigger ways.


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