Thursday, September 06, 2007

Pay It Forward


This is a picture of Kitsilano Beach Park in beautiful Vancouver, B. C. It is also a picture of the end result of ordinary people making an extraordinary impact on their world by 'paying it forward'. I had the opportunity to meet one of the catalysts behind this picturesque setting on Tuesday of this week. Sitting on 'Kits Beach'; as the locals have dubbed it, I ran into Alex.

Alex is definately a swim-upstreamer. While I was enjoying the calming sensation of waves crashing, I caught Alex out of the corner of my eye picking up trash on the beach. I watched her until she got closer to where I was seated. "Why are you picking up garbage on the beach?" I asked her.

"Because I saw another woman doing it" was her plain and simple reply. She continued, "and look over there... since I started that gentleman asked if I had a spare bag so that he, too could pick up litter!" and sure enough, there was a fellow on his cell phone asking someone if they had spare trash bags at home.

Her shining example was even more impressive when I offered her money to buy herself gloves (as she was handling the trash with her bare hands), she refused. "I don't need those" she refused... and so, if she didn't need gloves, neither did I. I left the beach in a meandering fashion, picking up any trash I saw.

The collective effort led to the beautiful beach shown above, where in 10 minutes I saw "pay it forward" be passed down 4 times. The reason for sharing this story is because we often have trouble associating our actions with any sort of tangible outcome. This tangible outcome was amazing to see in person, and it left me with an inspired feeling that one person really can make a difference; whether it is in cleaning up the environment, raising better children, or improving the whole world around us and everything in it.

KNOW that you can make a difference; because (we hope) that yopu ALREADY KNOW that you should.

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