As of this writing, it is now 38 days since I was in a bad car accident in which I suffered some very serious injuries, notably fractured sternum, neck (three fractures) and one rib. I wear a neck brace 24/7. Still, I am blessed beyond measure to be recovering at the home of a friend who has been an AMAZING caregiver on every level, including being my advocate with the many representatives of my insurance company, doctor’s offices and more.
For all of my life (literally), I have been raised to be, and have acted as, a giver/volunteer. It’s not something about which I think – I just do it. Until my accident, I had been volunteering regularly at three food pantries (hint, hint: take a look at my food pantry lists on this website). In April and May of this year, I devoted many hours daily to a friend who was moving, helping with sorting, organizing, packing and a four-day moving sale. I didn’t think anything of this – she needed help and I did whatever needed to be done.
I’m now in the position of being on the other side. One neighbor checks my mail, waters my plant and so much more – every day! Another neighbor has twice mowed my lawn (not easy because it has a lot of slopes). Just two months ago, I had helped her concerning a personal matter and, after the first mowing, she e-mailed me that she and her husband did this as thanks for what I did for her. Others have provided transportation for medical appointments and to my house to pick up mail and other items.
Yesterday, the above-mentioned friend who moved was back in the area. She took me to lunch and then back to my house for a couple of hours. As I began organizing “stuff” that had accumulated, she offered to clean my kitchen (being honest here: it was a mess). She said that it didn’t even come close to paying me back for all that I had done for her. It’s not that I was unaware of what I had done for her – it’s just that I hadn’t thought about what it meant to her, which I now realize was a great deal.
This was truly an eye-opener for me and yet, in some ways, it should not have been. For decades, when I’ve been asked about the people who have made the greatest impact on me, one of the individuals whom I named was my first dance teacher, who taught ballet in her house when I was in first and second grades.
In terms of dance, I entreat you to invite more dancers onto the social dance floor (especially those who are sitting on the side and/or are beginners). If you are an intermediate/advanced dancer, offer to participate in beginner workshops/classes (more leaders are ALWAYS needed). Even such a small thing can really be far more meaningful to those dancers/students than you realize and can potentially have a far-reaching impact.
And, in terms of life, we can’t always pay someone back, but we can pay it forward.