Any of you old enough to remember the shampoo commercial from the 70s and 80s that had the line “you tell two friends and they’ll tell two friends and so on and so on…”? Being someone who likes math, and shampoo, well, that stuck with me. Yes, if each friend told two friends about the shampoo soon everyone would know!
I thought of that commercial today, and that kind of math, when a long distance friend did a generous thing and mailed me an item that my youngest son will absolutely go crazy excited for. This kind soul is always doing for others — sometimes it’s a thoughtful and encouraging word via social media, sometimes a supportive email, and often it involves boxes shipped across the country with little wrapped goodies inside for no reason other than to brighten someone’s not so bright day. These gifts are not due to a holiday or birthday or new baby (though she sends those as well), they are just because. To know someone is thinking of you. To make your day better. To make you smile.
This spontaneous gift giving program of hers has taken off. In my case, it has inspired me to send half a dozen or so such boxes in the past year: to college students away from home for the first time, to relatives going through a trying time, to friends who have done a favor when a favor was desperately needed and appreciated.
In this friend’s case, it’s not the news of a wondrous shampoo she’s spreading, but something even better: an act of kindness and friendship. In her special way she has told two friends and they have each told two friends, and so on, and so on. This is the math of good.
Today I realized that it’s not only these internet friends that she has inspired to do the math of good. This woman has 5 children. Those children know of her acts of good will. They witness her kindness, her charity, her generosity, her sweetness and grace. Her reason for doing this is not to teach her children a lesson, no, I think she’d be as kind with or without children, but she is teaching them. They see what she is doing. They are learning by example. And it is a most excellent example.
I did this math of good and it reminds me how one person can make a big change in the world and how many people one person can touch in their lifetime. When this one person inspires 5 people, and they each inspire 5 more, who each inspire 5 more, and so on and so on … well, that is empowering and encouraging.
There is good in this world, and this friend is a true example of it.