Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Lesson

Today I had a lovely little natter with one of the recipients of the 48 books I was given to distribute for World Book Night. He was informing me that the book is now onto its third reader. I was happy to hear it and began wondering about the 46 other copies (I have kept one for myself) and the journeys they have been sent on.

When I learned about World Book Night and applied to be a giver, part of the process involved explaining how you would distribute your books. What clever means would you use to give out 48 of 1,000,000 books?

I decided to give my books on acts of kindness. I carried them with me and when I saw someone give up their seat on the tube, help carry a pram down some steps, stop to give directions - I'd give them a book. When someone did something kind, without thought for themselves, a book would be the unexpected reward. Unexpected because the act of kindness was unprovoked, done out of the simple, beautiful goodness we all possess.

I know how easy it is to get involved in your own crap. To feel caught up in the dramas of your personal situation to such an extent that the people around us seem insignificant or downright annoying.

Living in London, where space is limited and people can be ferociously protective of what little they feel entitled to, I thought my plan might be difficult as acts of kindness often seem few and far between. Granted, several of my books were shipped off to Canada for the sake of the 'World' aspect of the event, but more than half were distributed based on those acts of kindness. It took me a week and a half to give away 30 books. And I feel better for it. Not just because they're being passed on and perhaps being discovered by someone who will grow to love the book like no other they've read before, but because I spent the time giving them out looking for the goodness in people and finding it more and more. When you see someone stop, give their time, their attention, to a complete stranger without any expectation of reward, it makes you feel really good. Giving them a book, seeing the smile on their face - that was incredible.

Giving a free book to someone is giving them a smile.

Some people looked a little confused, but all of them smiled. One of them even jumped up and down with joy, having watched many of the programs in the lead up to the event. She squealed and said she'd been hoping someone would choose to give a book to her.

And I feel better for it. So much so that I'm a bit disappointed not to have more to give. I feel like giving lots of books away all the time. I'm going to have to start raiding my collection.

And if you've feeling in a rut, or feeling a bit down, go do something kind for a stranger or give away a book of your own. Tell me how it turns out.

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