R.A.O.K.s

A collectible figurine in the curio.

May 18, 2010; Chesterfield, NH: One of my mother's collectible Boyd figurines.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” ~ Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr.

R.O.A.Ks.  Not to be confused with R.O.U.S’, which are the infamous Rodents of Unusual Size from the movie A Princess Bride.  What is an R.O.A.K.?  Does it sound a little familiar?  Maybe it would help if I spelled it out for you:  Random Acts of Kindness.  Now what we know what it stands for, you may wonder, why is she talking about that?  It’s not Kindness Day; the next one of those isn’t until November.  Why bring up the topic at all?

The topic is being brought up because the topic has to be brought up.  It occurs to me that we don’t do Random Acts of Kindness nearly as often as we should.  I did a WordPress Search for “random acts of kindness” and my top results were about World Kindness Week, commercialism of R.A.O.Ks, and about Random Acts of Kindness Day.  I didn’t find anything about acts being performed, but preachings that they should be.  So, I figured that maybe my sample size was too small.  I went to Google.

When you Google search “random acts of kindness,” the first thing that comes up is The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.  My first reaction?  Frustration.  Does everything needs to be commercialised?  Do we really need days, products, a foundation to inspire us to do R.A.O.K.s?  Then I found the testimonial stories.  I haven’t decided what to think of them yet.  Every once and a while, there’s a golden one, talking about an R.O.A.K. done for the teller.  Many of them are self-centered and self-promoting, which to me defies the point.  If you’re doing a random act of kindness to make yourself look good, then it’s not selfless.  Stories that claim “I didn’t punish my sibling for finding the toy they lost and I was looking for” don’t seem like a R.O.A.K. to me.  And stories that sound like a chain email could easily be fiction.

There aren’t a lot of stories on the website, and only half of them sound like legitimate R.O.A.K.s.  And all the legitimate ones are based around money (lost wallets, etc.).  That concerns me.  Do we even know what kindness is anymore?  I decided to look up the “official definition” of “kindness” in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online, and the definition I received was “the quality or state of being kind.”  Geez, well, that’s not very helpful?  I looked up the word “kind”, and I got “of a sympathetic or helpful nature.”  So, if we plug that into the previous definition, we get “the quality of being of a sympathetic or helpful nature.”  Well goodness, no wonder so many of those stories are based around self-promotion?  According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, all you need to be is unplannedly helpful and voila!  Random act of kindness.  That seems a little uneventful to me.

I am firmly convinced that the word “selfless” really needs to be included in that definition.  Bringing lilacs to a friend because they make you smile and so do lilacs… that’s unplanned and selfless.  Returning a wallet and taking the reward?  Not so selfless.  Returning a wallet is more helpful, yes… but it brings relief not joy.  Random acts of kindness should bring joy to both parties.  Not just a “thank God, my credit cards are still intact… I think.”  It should be the type of thing that makes you want to tell other people.  Tell other people “this complete stranger did this awesome thing,” not “hey, guess what, I got my purse back.”  I’d like to share some random acts of kindness that have been showed to me recently, just in way of saying that I appreciate them.  They have not gone unnoticed.

  • Last week, one of the ladies I work with gave me wrapping paper.  No reason at all- it had my name on it and she saw it and wanted to give me it.  I don’t know why.  I mean, we’re not really friends, but she did anyway.  That was really nice of her.
  • Bryan gave me a bouquet of Scarlet Mimis a few weeks ago, the Friday before he moved out of his dorm room.  They were beautiful and I dried some of them out to keep forever.  We hadn’t been fighting, and it wasn’t a special day, he just woke up that morning and wanted to do that.
  • Every once and a while, one of the girls I used to work with in ActingOut comes up to me, gives me a hug, and tells me I made a difference in her life.  Wow.  Way to make me feel like I’m doing something right in the world, and in that program.  I think hearing that and knowing its true it amazing, and always uplifting.  And I don’t think she realises how much hearing that means to me.
  • A few weeks ago, one of my friends gave me a stone (two, actually!) painted in nailpolish with my name on them.  No reason at all; she just did.  I named the smaller one Steve and it was exciting.
  • My mom bought baby carrots and pineapple at the grocery store last week, just for me.  It made my weekend for her to think of me like that!
  • My manager helped me doing some busy work last night in my closing shift, because he didn’t have anything else to do.  It saved me loads of time!  I think I said thank you a dozen times, but it wasn’t enough.
  • I had a customer compliment me to a fellow associate, who passed it on to a couple managers.  This is two random acts of kindness:  one from the customer, and one from my fellow associate.  It was nice of him to say it, and it was nice of the associate to pass it on, though he didn’t have to.  Thanks, guys!
  • One of my best friends stopped into work yesterday to see me, and even though I was crazy busy and didn’t even get to say “hello,” it was nice to see her, and to have her take time out of her day to say hello.
  • One of the gentlemen I work with in theatre dropped off some music cds for me to listen to for an upcoming show in his free time yesterday.  It’ll help me get ahead for the show, which is a relief for me, and it was nice of him to come out of his way to bring them to me!
  • One of my directors is pushing her husband to give me a lead role which (she doesn’t know because I’ve never told her) I really want.  She has so much faith in me, and that’s great to know, and great to have.  She’s always trying to help me improve and she’s always teaching me new things, for no reason at all but the goodness of her heart.

That’s just the beginning.  I certainly could keep going.  Those just touched the last three weeks, at the most.  People do kind things for me every day without even realising it.  We shouldn’t need an event or reason to do good things, selfless things for other people.  We should want to do them, just because they’re right.

Not to be cheesy, but have you performed a R.O.A.K. today?  Has someone done one for you?  Tell me about it!

Health ReportHealth Report: Just ate a Peanutbutter Whoopie Pie.  Those things are calorie-crazy.  Needless to say, some exercise will be required.  I’m thinking Wii Swordplay or Basketball for an hour or so, topped with improv?  Lets hope that’s enough.

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Words Worth Getting AtWords Worth Getting At:  I maintain that the typewriter is great for writing something even when I don’t want to.  In fact, it’s on my to-do list today.  After Wii Swordplay/Basketball.  I already typed up a dead-end short this morning, but it’s good to keep writing.

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Random SqueeRandom Squee: I found out yesterday that a young gentleman has made a motion to open an ice cream parlor in my hometown, fairly close to my house.  That would be marvelous.

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2 Responses to “R.A.O.K.s”


  1. 1 Shanna Mae May 22, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    You are right! I feel the same as you do! I do perform random acts of kindness as often as possible. I am hoping that one day it will start a chain reaction. People are too high strung these days. Everyone needs to perform random acts of kindness! And as for the Serenity prayer– I was reading some of your other blog post and I had been getting high strung and I hated it. My psychologist asked me how I was dealing with things (chronic stress overload, anxiety, adhd combined type)… I told him the serenity prayer. People need to stop worrying about things they cannot change and change the things they can. We can change the world each day a little bit at a time if we would use more kindness in our lives! My life moto is Live, Laugh, and Love! 🙂 Nice to meet you! My name is Shanna!


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something to think about

"You know, I don't know if you'll understand this or not, but sometimes, even when I'm feeling very low, I'll see some little thing that will somehow renew my faith. Something like that leaf, for instance - clinging to its tree despite wind and storm. You know, that makes me think that courage and tenacity are about the greatest values a man can have. Suddenly my old confidence is back and I know things aren't half as bad as I make them out to be. Suddenly I know that with the strength of his convictions a man can move mountains, and I can proceed with full confidence in the basic goodness of my fellow man. I know that now. I know it." ~ End of Act I in the musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

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