A Piano and a Plate of Prawns
When I was a kid, I was always critiqued for being too kind. I was the boy who’d reconcile with his bullies only to have the cycle repeat itself. I’d buy things for other kids only to realise I had nothing left for myself. Even as a young adult, I could be generous as a thoughtless reflex.
It’s something that I probably can’t (and don’t want to) change at the core. If you’ve read my articles on Contribution and Friendship, I guess there’s no hiding that.
I did eventually realise that impulsive kindness is a potential Achilles heel that can be exploited or taken the wrong way. I have changed over the years by adding moderation. That’s why even though AA35 champions contribution as part of a full Life, I’ve offered caveats here and here.
I do still suffer from mad fits and crazy lapses, and act on impulse periodically. Quite recently, I decided that a keyboard piano would be the perfect thing to help a friend get through a few events, and was most appropriate for various reasons. One week later, I was dropped and cut off without explanation.
Now being dropped by a friend – despite best efforts and sincerity – is something we have to deal with in Life. It’s happened before and it will happen again. I wrote the whole thing off as a cautionary tale and moved on, lesson learnt.
All this would have been forgotten except for something that happened lately.
One day, I was shopping near my parents’ place and decided to risk dropping in for a simple meal. I say “risk” because my mum – bless her – will never ever do a ‘simple’ meal if she knew her son was visiting. In fact I often hesitate to visit because I don’t want my parents to take unnecessary effort and stress out.
I made it clear I’d drop in only if they kept the meal simple. This was at 1750. I said I’d drop in at 1900.
Well, as soon as my mum knew I was coming, she dropped what she was doing and headed to Sheng Shiong to buy food. Seeing fresh prawns were available she got them, rushed home, prepared and cooked them for me. This in spite of a wrist injury.
When I found out what she’d done I experienced a mix of distress and gratitude, happiness and sadness.
But it got me thinking…
I realized where my impulses when it comes to people I care about comes from. Why I sometimes make decisions on reflex, without looking beyond making someone happy.
And I felt comforted.
Because when I think about the piano I think about this plate of prawns and gives me confidence in my choices. It gives me consolation that I’ve probably inherited that kindness from some of the people I love the most.
Many a kind act has been rebuffed or punished but it doesn’t mean it’s wrong to be kind. Even when AOKs are given on impulse, it’s nothing to be ashamed about.
Because ultimately that’s all we can do. You can’t control what other people do; indeed, you shouldn’t. What you can do is act in the best possible manner, and be clear in your conscience that you valued that friendship and tried to add something positive to someone’s Life.
Don’t lose heart, and continue seeking other good people to give AOKs to. That’s how I intend to remember my roots and honour my parents.
Man, I suddenly have a craving for prawns!