A good deed to feel good about

Self-esteem is built by doing esteemable acts.

Author unknown

I’m writing about this not to brag but to share something positive. I flew out of town on business today, and I had an aisle seat I as usually do. When I sat down, the woman in the middle seat to my right was talking to her elderly mother in the middle seat across the aisle. So that she and her mother could keep each other company more easily – and honestly also so that she wouldn’t have to talk over me (my motives were not entirely altruistic) — I suggested that perhaps whoever had the aisle seat next to her mother could take my aisle seat, and I could take her middle seat so she could sit next to her mother. The man who originally had the aisle seat next to her mother was just as happy to take my aisle seat, so it all worked out. As I got up to leave the plane, she said “I wrote you a little thank-you note” and handed it to me. It read:

Thank you, Kindest of Strangers! My mom and I haven’t ventured out and about in more than a year. She was motivated to travel today to my daughters wedding. Thank you for caring about her comfort on this trip. All the best to you on your trip.

Safe travels,

Darla

It was a little thing for me, but it made a big difference to these two women on their very special day. I was taught in the Cub Scouts to do one good deed every day, or “Do a good turn daily” (Scouts slogan). I’ve tried to live up to this if not for others, then for myself— not to boast but just to feel okay about who I am. I’ll never forget what someone once told a group I was in: “Self-esteem is built by doing esteemable acts.” (The English major in me knows that esteemable should probably be estimable, but esteemable goes with esteem, so there you have it.) A person like me who has struggled with self-esteem his whole life understands that doing good deeds is like forgiving: it helps the giver as much as — or more than — it helps the recipient.

Again, I’m not bragging. I’m writing about this because doing this one little thing made more of a difference than I could have imagined to the people I showed kindness to, and because that kindness was repaid so graciously, and those thanks felt so good. So, next time you have a chance to do a good deed, do it! It might just make your day as much as it makes someone else’s.

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A puzzle in the time of coronavirus

A jigsaw puzzle we completed of George Seurat’s Un dimanche après-midi à l’Île de la Grande Jatte

My partner & I started this puzzle Monday evening and just finished it this afternoon. Talk about spending Sunday in the park with George! I saw the original painting, Un dimanche après-midi à l’Île de la Grande Jatte (A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte), hanging in the Art Institute of Chicago in 1993. It is huge, about 3:2 meters (about 10×7 feet), and I spent some time in the museum marveling at it. I’ve heard, seen, and sung Stephen Sondheim’s musical Sunday in the Park with George based on this painting, so it has added significance to me. This gave us something entertaining to do indoors on hot summer days during the coronavirus epidemic.