Maybe I suffer with a form of Tourette's syndrome, I'm certainly prone to the occasional, neigh frequent, sweary outburst. Many an evening, while my train of thought meanders violently along it's zig-zagging track through my imagination I will blurt out a sentence of such randomness that the fragrant Ms. DickFingers, sitting beside me and picking at her toenails, shakes her head and momentarily graces me with an incredulous look.
Nowadays, thanks to the advent of the iPhone and it's symbiotic relationship with Twitter, these occasional outbursts of randomness find themselves sent into the ether and spread throughout the interweb like a dose of syphilis through a Frenchman. Generally, though, they go unnoticed, as they deserve to, but just occasionally they receive some attention in the form of retweets, favourites and replies.
This very afternoon I found myself thinking about one of my favourite tattoos. I have many, on my back, my chest, my arms and my legs. A snake, a dragon, a Geisha, tribal tattoos, Oriental scripts, phrases, flowers, birds, and a Koi among others. Some very ornate, some very striking, some very large and all, with the exception of my favourite, very easy to conceal should a situation (Job interview, court appearance, funeral, Bar Mitzvah, etc.) call for an air of respectability.
My favourite can only be concealed by wearing a polo neck, well starched shirt and tie or neck brace, it being situated on the right hand side of my throat. It's black, quite large and one of the more simple designs. Just two words, six letters, a short phrase. A reminder, whenever I look in the mirror or see a photograph of myself, never to forget one simple secret. The key to my almost infallibly happy existence.
Just two words, but words I found to be so important that I decided to have them carved into my throat. It's a secret I discovered many years ago. The secret to my happy, little life and outlook, to success in the one area of anyone's life where success really matters. Money wont make you miserable, nor will the love of money, but it can't make you happy. An impressive job title will only impress those that covet your job. A flash car may be nice to drive and look pretty on the driveway of the house your bank manager owns and allows you to live in, for the time being, but will age far quicker than you and one day, rusting and in the hands of a spotty teen, be long forgotten by all. Even you.
But kindness, that shit lives forever.
A kind act can be over in an instant but the person to whom it is presented will carry it with them inside, though maybe too deep inside to be remembered, until the day they shuffle off this mortal coil and begin to moulder in a grave. But, while your car rusts and your home is converted into student flats once the area starts to deteriorate, it remains as shiny and undented as the day it was performed.
Glibness aside, once you realise how good it feels to perform an act of kindness, being kind becomes selfish. A good selfish, but selfish nonetheless. The spring in your step, the tune you whistle as you smile coming home, the smug self satisfaction, they're yours and yours alone to enjoy.
And it feels so good.
So I Tweeted this...
A throwaway comment that would once have been muttered and lost before my Twitter addiction took it's hold on me, but now noticed by a few people, favourited, retweeted and commented upon, resulting in a smugness equal to that which I feel when I help an old lady carry a bag, compliment a stranger or hand over a sausage roll and a meat and potato pie to the homeless lad and his dog I regularly pass in Bolton town centre.
The first time I performed the latter of these examples I'd just spent my last pound in the Pound Bakery, hadn't eaten all day and was faced with a not inconsiderable walk back to my home in Horwich. Moments after I'd handed over the goods I regretted it, my stomach admonishing me angrily, but once home and with a piece of toast in me I reaped the rewards. Maybe it was smug self-satisfaction, maybe it was happiness, either way it felt so good.
The greatest satisfaction comes when I do a random act of kindness that no one ever finds out about. Something that I know will make the recipient smile, scratch his or her head and wonder at their little bit of good fortune. Nothing creepy, I don't break into people's houses and do the washing up or arrange their knicker drawer in order of colour while they sleep, and to give you a particular example would undo the magic, but it's possible. Rare, but possible.
I am aware that very few people saw the original tweet, buried as it was in the middle of the day, and that most of those that saw it probably forgot all about it very soon afterwards, but maybe just one person tried it out. If they did, I am certain they'll have repeated the experiment again today and hopefully will continue to be kind. There will be days when kindness is unwarranted or impossible, I have many such days myself, but the day after sees me return to my glib ways. Like a dieter who sneaks a mars bar when no one's looking only to carry on munching salad instead of chips at meal times, to fail one day isn't to fail.
We only fail when we cease to try.
So, in an effort to encourage people to try out my recipe for success I've designed a game for you all to play along.
- Receive one point for every random act of kindness.
- One additional point if the act of kindness benefited a stranger.
- Two additional points if no one knows it was you that performed the act.
- Lose three points if no one would've know but you told someone and screwed that up.
- Tot those numbers up, multiply the total by ten, convert those points into pennies, put those pennies in a jar and wait until it's full.
- Give the jar away.
And the winner is...
...all of us.