Archive for the ‘kindness’ Tag

The Value of Kindness   35 comments

The first image made after the act of kindness, sunset along the Columbia near home.

The first image made after the act of kindness, sunset along the Columbia near home.

Believe it or not this is a photography-related post.  I was recently surprised with a loaner camera!  A person I met through my photography club, someone who went to the same college as I but who I don’t know well at all, saw my situation and took pity on me.  She loaned me her Canon 60D because (she said) it wasn’t really being used.

Now I know plenty of other photographers who have cameras much better than that as backups (they shoot with top of the line cameras).  And I have spent time shooting with these people.  None of them were coming forward after learning of my recent misfortune, losing my camera gear over the waterfall.  This is despite the fact that it would not have disrupted their photography.  This was her only DSLR, she didn’t know me very well, and she made the sacrifice.  That’s real kindness.

Springtime in an Oregon forest.

Springtime in an Oregon forest.

Elowah Creek in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge tumbles down the canyon below the waterfall of the same name.

Elowah Creek in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge tumbles down the canyon below the waterfall of the same name.

You never learn about kindness except through acts like this.  If someone can afford to do something for another without being put out or inconvenienced; I think it’s nice of them.  But it’s not the same as this.  This is the kind of thing that humbles you and makes you think about your own decisions.  To go through life convincing yourself that you are kind and giving without ever doing something for another that causes you real inconvenience is the same as fooling yourself.

And now I’m searching too hard in my history for times when I have displayed real kindness.  I want to change this.  I want to be able to come up with instances right off the top of my head.  And I’m sure you do too!  The only way to accomplish this is to act when the time is right.  We all know that, but the thing we tend to forget is the happiness and joy that we derive from acts of real kindness.

Spring brings the water flowing down theverdant side canyons (such as Elowah Creek) of Oregon's Columbia Gorge.

Spring brings the water flowing down theverdant side canyons (such as Elowah Creek) of Oregon’s Columbia Gorge.

Pink bleeding hearts bloom in a green Oregon forest.

Pink bleeding hearts bloom in a green Oregon forest.

And so we go along making a flawed calculation; that is, focusing solely on how much inconvenience or pain comes from our decisions.  We forget about the payoff because we don’t experience it very often (if at all).  What I’m saying is that small acts of kindness that don’t cost us anything give us a good feeling, sure.  But it’s nothing compared to the feeling we get when we give something up in our lives in order to give something to another that will fundamentally change someone’s life.  My benefactor did not know me as well as other people did, but she knew enough.  She knew that I didn’t just lose a piece of equipment, I lost the ability to express myself and to share my love of nature and the world.

A spring rainstorm passes over the Columbia River Gorge in the Pacific Northwest.

A spring rainstorm passes over the Columbia River Gorge in the Pacific Northwest.

Spring flowers bloom on Rowena Crest in Oregon.

Spring flowers bloom on Rowena Crest in Oregon.

So she did two important things before the decision to give.  She figured out how much that gift would mean to me, and she ignored the fact that she would be putting aside her own passion for an uncertain amount of time.  When she saw my reaction I could tell right away it was worth it.  She was experiencing the benefit of a genuine act of kindness.  And this is an often-forgotten part of it’s value.  It doesn’t just benefit the receiver.

Most of us know this, but we have to stop and think about it.  We mostly act out of the belief that there are so many who need so much that we cannot possibly give enough.  Maybe if we won the lottery we could give to our heart’s content.  I say this because I know my own mind has fooled me in this way.  I am going to give back to this kind person in an effort to pay her back for her kindness.

Elowah Creek, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Elowah Creek, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Oneonta Gorge is tough to access during spring's high water, but it's still my favorite time to visit.

Oneonta Gorge is tough to access during spring’s high water, but it’s still my favorite time to visit.

But I know one thing for sure.  Even if I did nothing for her she would still derive a fundamental benefit from her gift.  And it will make her more likely to do it again in the future.  (By the way, if you’re reading this V, I’m using the word “gift” in a loose manner; I promise to give back your camera!)   The only question for me is, will I pay it forward?  Believe me I’ll be thinking about it.  If the opportunity arises to give when it genuinely costs me something, I hope I’m ready to pony up.

I hope your weekend went well and you have enjoyed these images shot with the loaner camera.  I also hope you’ll consider giving to my campaign in order to speed the return of her camera.  Although I will be giving it back at some point anyway, both her and I would love it to be at the end of this campaign when I am able to buy a replacement for my lost camera.  Also consider re-blogging or otherwise sharing my post The Campaign.  Thanks for reading and thanks so much for your support for my blog.

Michael

Dusk falls over the Columbia River where it flows along the border of Oregon and Washington through its famous gorge.

Dusk falls over the Columbia River where it flows along the border of Oregon and Washington through its famous gorge.

 

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