“No matter what accomplishments you achieve, somebody helps you.” – Althea Gibson
Did you ever have those mornings when you wake up and think about how deeply you’re in debt? Not to banks or credit card companies, but to the many people who’ve helped you in countless ways throughout your life.
Many times, someone may provide assistance because of their job, their title, or their role in our lives. Teachers, emergency workers, medical professionals, bosses, parents and friends. Or they may be a person in passing – who are in our lives for one fateful moment – and then we never see them again.
Similarly, their support may be in many forms. Something extraordinary – raising us in a safe home, inspiring us to great heights in the classroom, or maybe even saving our lives in dramatic fashion. But more often, their gifts arrive in brief but powerful actions – offering comfort in time of need, reminding us of our strengths when we feel weak, or being a source of unconditional love when needed most. Even in smaller ways, like a friendly smile, an earnest compliment, or a much needed hug. Seemingly insignificant moments with an incalculably combined impact.
If we’re lucky, we’ve had the opportunity to thank the other person. We’ve explained the impact on our lives, in the past, in the present and the future. We’ve looked them in the eye and expressed gratitude for gifts we may not have deserved. It’s a beautiful moment.
Circumstances don’t always allow for such those occasions. Relationships change. People fall away from our lives. Time and distance create gaping chasms. We may not even know the name of our benefactor. We never get the chance to say, “Thank you.”
Expressing thanks is wonderful, but we still may feel the burden of obligation to do more. We want to even out the scales. However, there’s no cosmic ledger that tallies our balance. There’s no quid pro quo formula to follow. We search for a way to pay our fair share.
One answer lies in how we became debtors. People helped us. Someone performed an act of kindness. A selfless gift, with no expectation of anything in return. It’s time for us to do the same.
And just as there were so many ways that we received, there are many ways for us to give. Participating in formal programs that lend a hand to those in need. Speaking out for those without a voice. Volunteering in our communities.
To those closer, we can offer even more of ourselves. We may not have the answers to someone’s problems, but we have ears to listen, with an open, non-judgmental heart. We can open our arms and our hearts to those that need consolation. We can celebrate another’s reason for happiness.
Every day offers a new chance to make another payment. Choosing not to spread anger and vitriol. Being polite to the person behind the counter. Holding the door open for the next individual. Deciding to be helpful to someone in need. Greeting a stranger with a smile.
We’re never truly debt-free. As long as we live, there are people who find ways to help, support and love us; during our quest to help, support and love others. We remain in a beautiful, endless circle of giving and receiving – receiving and giving.