11 February 2014

Karma and Stuff

Back when I was in college, my dad one time told me I was "too gracious". I actually looked gracious up in the dictionary because I didn't think he was using it right. Turns out he was using it fine. He was saying I was too "courteous, kind, and pleasant". And he was saying it like it was a bad thing.

Huh?

The comment stemmed from something that happened earlier that week. It was January. Cold. Wet. Snowy. Icy. In other words, gross. I was driving home from college and got a flat tire on Route 6, a semi-major highway. Semis were flying by. No one stopped to help. I couldn't get the tire off to change it. Bleh.

I ended up walking to a business down the road to see if I could use their phone. (Here I date myself. Yes, this was before cell phones.) They let me call my dad and then let me hang out in their lobby until he came. I thought that was nice of them.

Later that week, I sent them a thank you card and a few bucks for the phone call. (I didn't know how much phone calls were. Only that I could only call long distance after 7 p.m. and even then couldn't stay on the phone long, so they must be expensive. Ah, the good ole days.)

Dad said I was "too gracious". I thought it was the right thing to do. Without that business, I would've been at the mercy of some crazy truck driver. That hardly seemed safe.

I've thought about that comment a lot over the years. Why was it such a bad thing to thank someone for doing something nice?

I think he was concerned about my personality in general and was using that as an example. I know he thought I was soft. I should've been tougher. I was going to get walked on. Used. Hurt. He was right, to an extent. There was probably a balance between feeling like I owed someone for every simple act of kindness and just accepting the kindness and moving on. Taking from this world as much as I give. Stuff like that.

But I'm not that kind of person. I am truly grateful for every nice thing anyone's ever done for me. I try hard not to "return the favor" every time, but I hate feeling like I owe someone something. Even when they say I don't.

This all relates in some way to my belief in karma. That good things happen to good people. That what goes around comes around. To treat others how I want to be treated. All things, I might add, my dad taught me.

I'm not sure where all this is coming from, but it's a thought I've been having lately. Can someone be "too gracious"? Can you be gracious and still have a backbone? Do nice people always finish last? Will I ever be OK accepting a "just because" gift from a friend? :-)

If you can answer these questions, I'd really appreciate it. But I won't do anything in return except say thank you.

1 comment:

TheSnailMailer said...

Yes, I understand. You can be gracious and should be gracious. That thank you probably inspired the people at the business to be more helpful in their daily lives.
My Dad taught me to be kind to other people and giving, but in his later years I found out he only meant our race and creed. Too late, I am open to others and now realize he got some things terribly wrong. I learned the real message from him and he can keep the stipulations he put on that message for himself.
Much Love!