I just received a mail from a friend wherein she wonders what I mean by "Practise random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty." This is a statement I picked up while browsing randomly for something and it made so much sense to me that I add it to my signature in my mails.

If you had ever been at the receiving end of a random act of kindness you would readily appreciate its significance, how it touches you so deeply that you want to be kind to someone else in return just to unburden the gratitude. One such instance happened when we were travelling in England and had gone to spend a few days at the Brockwood park School where some of our friends were teaching.That saturday afternoon we had heard that there was a house about 6 kms away with a few hundred year old thatched roof which was open for visitors. We caught a bus to the place and spent the afternoon there, enjoying the tea and cakes that were served but on our return there was no bus. Since the weather was fine and we did not have much choice, we decided to walk back hoping we may see a bus on the way. After about 1/2 km of walking, a car stopped near us. There were two ladies, in their 50s who asked us if they could drop us somewhere. When we mentioned Brockwood park, they said it was just a little deviation from their way. Since it was a small car, it was decided that the two ladies and the 2 boys would take the ride while the men would walk until they found a bus. So we got in, the ladies were very warm and kind and insisted that they drop us upto the school, never mind the extra mile.We loved the ride and the conversation and got off thanking them profusely. We were not expecting the men for a few hours yet but within about 30 mins there they were - apparently the ladies went back for them all the way after dropping us as they were pretty certain that there was going to be no bus that afternoon that way and dropped them to the school too - now That is really going "out of the way" to be nice to people whom you may never see again in your life. I cant explain how touched we were!
Just try doing something for someone when you are not expected or obliged to do and see how much happier you are doing it and how fulfilling it is spiritually.

As for senseless acts of beauty I remember a colleague of mine who would surprise us all with things like flowers on our table one fine monday morning - a single rose /gerbera or marigold in a glass. No particular reason but to put a smile on his colleague's faces. On some days it would be a small piece of paper with a funny quote and another time it would be a lollypop! Totally senseless but utterly beautiful and endearing.It was simply impossible to be angry or upset with anyone on these days - life seemed so beautiful!

It doesn't require great acts of heroism to make a difference. Small and uncalculating acts like these will do!
18 Responses
  1. ...and these things usually tend to come back and result in a "full circle" moment (quoting Oprah here) too even though you never realise it.

  2. passerby55 Says:

    A very beautiful post, usha.

    I have had such experiences, though they have been few and in the past.They remind me that all is not lost as yet. There is still hope.

    We need to have faith in humanity and love.

  3. Chitra Says:

    Lovely post, Usha!

    Passerby55, there is still hope, LOTS and LOTS of hope. :) We cannot afford to lose faith, 'cause humanity needs it more now than ever before.

  4. Divs Says:

    Lovely post Usha, as always.. Just wish we have more people like that.. It doesn't take a million to buy a smile, just a flower will do..

  5. Visithra Says:

    inniya ponggal vazhtukal usha ;)

    such a beautiful act of kindness

    ive received my share of it - given some but somehow its easier when theyre strangers

  6. Akila Says:

    really nice post....reminded of my friends in TISS who regularly indulged in such activities and hence thoroughly spoilt me!!!

    and of course I have done the same too...reminds me that there is more goodness in the world than I think there is!!!!

  7. Usha Says:

    orchid: Yes, I completely agree. You receive it somewhere and pass it on to someone else.

    Passerby:Of course, there is a lot of kindness and beauty in the world which never gets reported.

    Chitra:Yes, I agree.
    Why did my comment disappear from your posts? Hope you are better now.

    Divs: yes, there are alot of people who are capable of it but sometimes we are too preoccupied or too much ina hurry to notice that sucha small thing can make a huge difference to someone.

    Akila:Yes, usually it is people who do these senseless and random things who receive it too although they dont go around witha banner announcing it. I think they just make people want to do something for you!

  8. Mahadevan Says:

    Random Acts of Kindness' is a thrilling experience to practice and also when you are the receiving end. Since I read about it for the first time in one of your blogs ( your blogs provide plenty of such learning opportunities), I have been looking for such acts.

    Recently I had gone to State Bank of India to get one of their Certificates, corrected. The Certificate was signed by the Branch Manager. As the Branch Manager was not to come for an hour, I was looking a little helplessly. One of the officers in the Bank asked me if it was not a personal matter, could he have a look at the paper in my hand and and help me out. When I gave the certificate, he read it minutely, thought for a few moments, made the necessary corrections, affixed the Bank stamp and authenticated the correction by initialling it and returned the certificate to me. The sense of relief I had and the genuine gratitute I expressed, must have been his reward.

    Random Acts of kindness is a sublime experience. May I appeal to you, Please do not reduce it to 'RAoK.

  9. Usha Says:

    Mahadevan: As an ex-bank employee myself, what the officer did was exactly what he is expected to do. The irony is that we are so used to seeing these people sticking to their departmental work and making you wait for the "concerned" officer to come that we have come to treat these as acts of kindness.
    But I agree with the point you are trying to make - he could have got away with not doing it but he did and saved you a lot of time!
    Actually I'd classify the post you wrote about me as a beautiful and extreme act of random kindness! (thank you again!)
    Changed the title too!

  10. S! Says:

    Your response to Mahadevan's comment was very interesting.

    I had a few similar experiences in US while I was setting my house up with electricity, gas & all that. These really went through very smoothly.

    But you're right in saying that my low expectations themselves made the whole thing look smoother than it probably was.

    I've been practising random acts of kindness myself. I sometimes let other cars get ahead of me or change lanes without harboring nasty thoughts about their lineage. I think its the whole global warming thing which has made this January rather temperate & made me a kinder, nobler person - quite a feat given the pinnacles of perfection I was already at. :)


  11. true! its just these small acts of kindness and beauty - that make you realise - that no matter how much you crib on your blog - the world is filled with good people :)

  12. passerby55 Says:

    You are tagged.
    Write ten things that define your style.


  13. feels good for the doer too. i like offering lifts to people i know ... i am scared to do it for those i dont know

  14. Usha Says:

    "nasty thoughts about their lineage" - hehehe..
    You actually managed to reach new heights of perfection?? Captain, you never cease to amaze me!

    STS: Yes, and cribbing in the blog lets the steam out and lets you get on with life, I suppose!

    Passerby: Will pick it up of course. My style? oh, didnt know I had one!!

    ITW:I agree, we cannot do it as much as we would like to because of fear of strangers!

  15. A.R.Malik Says:

    "senseless acts of beauty" is pretty much how Tom Robbins defines art.

    "Random acts"... on my 1st morning in the US, I was walking around with a 20 dollar bill, looking for change so I could use the vending machine for a coke. Went to the local pizzeria, which was closed at 6 am, and the security guard manning the kiosk facing it told me it wouldn't open for another 3 hrs. He asked me if I was new, and after a 30-sec conversation about my problem, just handed over 2 1-dollar bills. He refused to accept the 20 bucks I wanted change for.
    "Hallelujah, sir, and have a blessed day".

    Maybe, religion does have beneficial consequences after all.

    Btw, while practising the random acts of kindness, isn't it a sort of given that you're not supposed to ever tell anyone about them?

  16. Usha Says:

    That is a very nice story. Thanks for sharing!
    It is pockets of kindness in the midst of all the paranoia and terrorism that gives us hope right!
    Of course people who practise random acts of kindness would never talk about it as they don't themselves notice them!

  17. A feel good blog from you. SOmetimes I feel there is so much of kindness to go around, but no one seems to be using it or taking it. Everybody is so busy getting ahead in life. No time for to imbibe or share the senseless beauties either

  18. Usha Says:

    JLT: I agree but what are we rushing for?