For today’s kindness, I decided to steal an idea from MK in Wonderland. I came upon her blog thanks to my friend Holly, and I loved her suggestions, particularly the one in which she left notes of inspiration in the pages of self-help books at the bookstore.
I know, right? Amazing!
Since I work at a college, I decided to give it a twist. I wrote out some messages and stuck them in the pages of books in our campus library. Of course, each time I attempted to log into the student computers to access the card catalog, I was denied, so I visited the information desk for assistance. The cheery and helpful woman behind the counter offered to do a search for me.
“What are you looking for?” she said.
“Oh, er, well, books on, well, on depression and anxiety,” I said, feeling my face get a little red. “They’re not for me, they’re for my students. You know, research papers. Ha. Ha.” I tried to add this last part in the most casual way possible, but I know that it came out high-pitched and fast and guilty sounding.
She knew they were for me.
“The stress of teaching got you down?” I could picture her thinking as she typed in the search term. Due to some sort of glitch with her PC, it took four or five attempts to yield results, forcing me to stand there longer, feeling sillier and sillier as the moments passed.
When I had my answer, I darted to the back of the stacks to find some appropriate books to house my bookmarks. It occurred to me that students might be looking for these texts not for personal growth but for research in a particular course. In fact, the latter was much more likely than the former, but as I mentioned in my post the other day, it isn’t my business to know or control how these acts of kindness are received. My job is to put them out there and let whatever might happen to happen.
Perhaps, a student might come upon the note and find it meaningful despite her/his original intent for picking up the book. Or, then again, perhaps someone will find it, read it, and promptly laugh at it before tossing it aside. It might be a week or a month from now that it is found, or it might take years. Someone may even throw the book in her/his school bag, loosening the note from it’s pages. Days or even weeks later, the student would discover it out of context at the bottom of her/his bag, which would of course lead to some wondering about who left the note for her/him.
But it’s no matter how or when it is uncovered. If just one of the messages in the stack makes it’s way to another person’s heart, then the kindness will have been spread, and that is the scenario I like best.
Have you ever left an encouraging note for a stranger or been inspired by someone you never met?