We always hear about how we should all be doing random acts of kindness, and of course, that's true. The world is bound to be a better place when we are kind to one another.
I was surprised, however, when I was the recipient of a random act of kindness earlier this week. Surprised because I struggled with accepting it.
I struggled with accepting a gift.
Sounds crazy, doesn't it? Still, it's true. Here's a brief recap of the event: I received a bill for a necessary home service, and it was exceedingly higher than I'd expected it to be. About 5 times higher, actually. Hoping there was some mistake, I called the service provider, who explained politely that this was a flat fee, charged to anyone who required the service. I was irritated, and I'm not proud to say, vented extensively to P, who explained pointedly to me that it's always wise to ask about fees up front.
Even though I strive to lead a balanced, peaceful life, it is always a work in progress. I'd made the call to secure the service a few days before, while in the car, en route from one place to another. I'd never asked the fee. Instead I'd made an assumption, based on what I had paid for similar service in the past, and now I would - literally - be paying the price.
Imagine my surprise, a few hours later, when the service provider called me back, and told me he had decided to waive his fee and consider the work a donation. Many people in my shoes would have simply said "Thank you!" and counted their blessings.... I did not react this way, however. The more he explained to me that he simply wanted to do a random act of kindness for someone, the more I persisted to him that I could pay the bill.
It was never a matter of being unable to pay it; I had simply been astounded that I would have to pay so much. And I could not stop feeling, deep inside, that he was waiving the fee because he thought, for some reason, I could not pay it.
I could not feel gratitude for this man's gentle act because I could not stop thinking that he had assumed I was financially strapped, though I'd given no impression of this in my call. Finally, P said to me, "Why do you care so much anyway what this stranger might think of you?" When I could not explain it, he called it like it was: "It is your ego wanting to shout, I HAVE THE MONEY!"
Whoa...but one of the reasons I am so crazy about P is that he cares enough for me to risk honesty. And honesty, let's face it, sometimes is a risk. I needed to hear that, however, because being too attached to our delicate, fragile egos is a much greater risk, especially when it makes us analyze a random act of kindness so much we can't accept it.
Paulo Coehlo states, in The Alchemist, that if we reject a gift, 'the universe might be listening, and give you less next time." So in writing this post, I am expressing my now ego-less, completely sincere gratitude for the service provider's random act of kindness.
And remembering to also be grateful...
...for yet another meaningful, powerful lesson.