After a particular tedious day looking at spreadsheets and attending a longer-than-expected internal meeting, I was having a much-needed night in, staring mindlessly at the TV with a glass of wine in my hand (please don’t judge me!).
I was expecting to watch some complete nonsense (that’s normally what happens when I actively sit down to watch TV) but I happened upon a gem that left me with a message I didn’t expect.
It was a property programme following the trials and tribulations of a couple in the south of England converting a charming, stone-built former industrial building into a family home. It had no roof, the walls were non-existent in places, there was an open mine shaft nearby and the land was overgrown with fifty years of weeds.
The couple were challenged with a limited budget of only £100,000 (about $160,000) when any sane person would have said that a more realistic figure of £250,000 was needed to get the job done.
But this was the bit I really liked. The man was a stonemason with 25 years experience in the building trade and lots of great contacts. He was a pragmatic guy who’d been a kind-hearted friend to people over the years and had shared his skills and done a good deed where people couldn’t pay the going-rate.
Good-naturedly everyone generously returned his acts of kindness, ten-fold in many cases. Pointing the stonework, a few hours plumbing or electrical work, a day or two decorating, supplying some hardwood for the window and door frames; everyone did a little bit of whatever they could to help out. It took a little longer than originally anticipated but the home is now complete.
It seems indeed that a generous heart renews humanity*.
This was a generous heart on a grander scale than perhaps we’re capable of every day, but there are simpler ways to share. There have been stories on the UK news in the last few years about how people in rural communities are starting to barter their wares on a more formal and organised basis. But I guess we all recognise the opportunities we have to “return the favour” or perform an act of kindness.
My neighbour recently cut the hedge that sits between our gardens and he left me a small bag of potatoes that he’d grown in his garden. A great but simple kindness that I know I’ll be repaying sometime over the winter when the driveway needs clearing of snow or he wants a pint of milk from the shop.
But perhaps we should be doing these things more often for our “neighbours” and in these financially tough times doesn’t it make all our lives much easier and much richer when we do?
*thanks to Buddha
Jill B. lives in Scotland, where her neighbors are few but appreciated.