Intentional acts of kindness

I remember several years ago hearing someone advocate practicing random acts of kindness.  The idea was that by doing something unexpectedly kind for someone could have nothing but positive impacts in the world.  I agree, to a point. 

Random acts of kindness are just that, random.  Practiced frequently they can impact both the receivers and the givers in positive ways.  However, I believe that thoughtful acts of kindness can also be extremely powerful.

Thoughtful acts of kindness seem to be sometimes sadly missing in our world.  These acts are more intentional and directed at people in our direct sphere of influence.  Non-manipulative in nature, their intended use is simply to lighten the load of those around us in a non-random manner.

Umtimately, the common denominator in both of these is a single word.  Kindness.

Whether random or intentional, kindness in practice can only help make the world a better place.

Shoes make the difference

One of my favorite movies is Sneakers, and one of my favorite scenes is the one where River Phoenix goes in to Robert Redford and Sidney Portier to tell them about some visitors.  They ask two questions, suits and shoes.  When told the shoes are expensive, they drop everything and rush to greet the visitors. 

I won’t spoil the rest of the movie, you’ll have to watch it, but I love that moment.   It illustrates a point that a man of style and substance needs to remember: the quality of a man’s shoes can make a difference.

I’ve done posts on shoes before, so I won’t labor the point too much.  But as I’ve been acquiring new shoes lately, the topic has been on my mind.  Let me suggest some ideas that may be worthwhile to a gentleman in pursuit of good shoes.

1: Try them on.  It is not enough to be “the right size.”  When making an investment in shors, you want to know that they will fit when you buy them.  While it is true that they will stretch and break in, if they don’t fit when they are new, they may never be comfortable.

2: Know the make up.  Is the sole one that can be replaced?  How well will it wear?  How was the welt attached?  What type of leather (and it should always be leather)? What is the average life expectancy of the shoe?  All of this can be important when making a purchase, especially if you are only buying one pair.

3: Treat them right.  Make sure that you know the best way to care for the new investment.  Shoe trees are a must.  Water proofing, mink oil or polish should be used often to keep the shoes supple and comfortable. 

Other tips are also important, but these are a good starting point.  Good luck!

Volunteer

Today, in the early morning chill of a Utah autumn, I got up, shrugged on my sweats, grabbed a cap and my running gloves and prepared for a 5k.  I’ve run several races in my day, so this ritual is very familiar.  Except for two differences, it might have been like every other 5k I’ve ever done.  The first difference was I had my youngest son in tow.  The second was that we would not be running.  We were on course support, volunteers.

It was certainly a different experience. Instead of thinking about warming up I was thinking about how I could encourage those who would be running the race.  Instead of worrying about my time, I was making sure I was at the right place at the moment I was most needed.  Instead of thinking about striving for a personal record, I was looking for ways to make the way easier for others.

It was a great morning.  It was a great race.  And my son and I clapped and cheered and laughed and enjoyed a wonderful experience.

I’m glad I took the time to volunteer with my son.  It gave me an opportunity to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak.  I demonstrated, to both myself and my son, the principle of giving back that is a hallmark of men of substance.

I will run other races, but I doubt any of them will be as memorable as the races like this one, where I chose to volunteer.