Did you hear about the guy from Canada who traded office supplies… well, more specifically, a single red paperclip…for a house? This is for real (almost 10 years ago). It absolutely happened, and he has a great blog that helped him to connect with many willing participants and document his whole journey.
What creative soul could come up with such a wildly unique idea to start, and then gain enough curiosity and interest from a lot of others, that people began to actually respond to his scheme? I won’t describe the personal journey of Kyle MacDonald much more here than I have, but I do encourage you to pop over to his series of blogs.
My reactions to this are two-fold:
- You have a guy with a fun and creative spirit, and a very specific goal to achieve.
- You have a group of people willing to give a little and contribute to someone else’s positive journey.
…and both of these things occurred via the World Wide Web!
Let’s think about that first point for a moment.
It is curious and interesting to me to see how the creative process works in some people. But it has to be more than just that creative spirit. It is courage, strength, the ability to humble oneself, and confidence that others in the population will chip in and help you when you ask.
Maybe the red paperclip story just scratches the surface. He got his house, but we never really learn a whole lot about the ins and outs of him on a deeply personal level. But we know enough to, in the least, follow this singular experience. Some people knew enough to decide they wanted to be a direct part of it!
A gal I have known for most of my life recently put her and her husband’s personal journey out into the Universe in the most humbling way. She created a Go Fund Me site to try to raise money to help them keep their home. On this page, she openly shares their story, from achievements to the deeply personal struggles which prompted them to ask for help in a most honest and courageous way. As I started this blog, they had collected 10% of their goal, within two days of the original post.
Now how about all those outside participants?
I wonder if an individual’s choice to insert themselves into this paperclip journey was based on an oddly selfish want to be a part of something quirky and cool, or if there is something more. Can you participate in a quirky and cool event like this and still have compassion at the foundation of your choice to become involved? At the end of all this, after all, the participants did give something of themselves to help Kyle MacDonald get that house.
A woman I have grown to call a dear friend over the past ten years has an upcoming birthday. It has become tradition for her that on or near her birthday, she’ll host a “Girl’s Night In” for her close girlfriends. As is normal, she is insisting that no one brings her gifts. A minor, friendly argument ensued when another friend tried to explain why bringing flowers to the party hostess is just a polite gesture of thanks, not a birthday gift. This year, the Birthday Hostess has upped the ante. This year, in addition to not bringing anything for her (cards, flowers, etc.), she has asked that we should instead perform a random act of kindness for anyone else. In the case of the Flower-Bringer, those flowers should be gifted to anyone other than the Birthday Girl…just because.
I absolutely love this sense of compassion and giving this group of ladies shares with each other and me. It can be contagious if you allow it.
I love that my other friend chose to put her and her husband’s story out into the world for us to know, to be able to help them if we can. We are all human, after all. And we all have our own unique struggles.
But, when we can, why not help someone else improve their situation even by the smallest gesture. I am absolutely appreciative of the positive ripple that these choices can make for the receiver and the giver.
Do you think that the internet has made opportunities like this…to give, to share, to support…any easier to achieve?
Either way, my challenge for you is to make a conscious choice to take action. You may not be that final trade between a quirky Canadian and his house. But any gesture you can share of kindness and giving may be exactly what someone else needs to put a smile on their face, a spring in their step, and cause for them to be the next positive ripple that connects us all.