Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Thirty-nine good deeds

A couple of weeks ago I watched a video on facebook where a young man in India performed 21 good deeds on his 21st birthday.  (And of course, now I can't find the video.)  The acts ranged from watching a tollgate for a guard so he could use the restroom to feeding the homeless. 

Later that week, I was in a bookstore and found a title of a book that looked interesting.  I was having a crummy day and needed some inspiration, so opened the book to that date.  Turns out Erin had had a bad day, too: it was her first deedless day.


I took a picture of the book and vowed to check out at the library.  Then I went back to my day, trying hard get over my curmudgeonly and pissy mood.

The universe seemed to be working to get me to do something.  The book and the video stuck with me, never far from my thoughts.  I finally decided to do 39 good deeds in conjunction with my 39th birthday (which isn't until August 2013).  Would I attempt 39 deeds in one day?  Would I focus on doing one a day for the 39 days before my birthday?  I didn't know but it would be my way of thanking the world for letting me occupy it for 39 years.

I did worry, however, that many of the deeds would cost money we can't spare.  Sure, it's lovely to purchase the next drive-up person's order, to donate money to a charity, to buy a kid's school fundraiser items, but what if I just don't have the cash?  We are on a very strict budget.

A couple of days after having seen the book, one of the bloggers I follow on facebook announced that her friend, Erin McHugh (see above), was giving away e-copies of her book for one day only on amazon.com.  Wait a sec... that's the book I was coveting!  And it's free!  I rushed and got myself a copy. 

Happy happy joy joy!

The book has provided me with a lot of inspiration.  Good deeds mean calling a friend, being reliable, giving credit where credit is due, helping others find joy, and more.  I'm really enjoying the book and am so glad that I own a copy because I know I'll read it again.

This morning as I walked from my car to my office I noticed an abandoned Safeway shopping cart on campus.  The nearest Safeway is well over a mile away.  I'd seen the cart there for the past few days but not done anything.  I live near another Safeway and am constantly taking back carts that people have thoughtlessly left in the street.

Rather than grumble to myself about careless people, I whipped out my cell phone and called the number on the cart to report its location.  That was a much better way to start my day than getting worked up about the cart having been left on campus by some jerk.

Sometimes good deeds are more dramatic. 

Yesterday a coworker came to my office doorway and said, "Jenn, I think I'm going to pass out".  Then he did.  I had just enough time to get to him and lay him down gently on the ground.  I put my coat under his head, called his wife, kept him company until the paramedics arrived, then helped keep curious students at bay so that he could have some privacy.  I was pretty amped up on adrenaline for the rest of the afternoon and got very little work done.

(And Erin McHugh says that good deeds don't fall into your lap!)

Just last Thursday I found a debit card on the ground near a window well.  I glanced into the well and saw what appeared to be a driver's license.  I climbed down into the well and retrieved the card: it had the same name as the debit card.  I reported the find to the the police and left the items at a nearby bakery.  That morning wasn't completely altruistic: I'd missed my stop because I'd been eavesdropping on some very personal conversations on the bus.

And so it would seem that my 39-deed pledge has begun without my having realized it.

Won't you join me in a similar pledge?  The purpose of sharing the good deeds isn't to tell us how wonderful you are - we already know that! - but rather to inspire others to take action and influence in a positive way the world around us all.


  1. I don't work, but the neighbors on both sides of me do. I have started mowing their front lawns when I mow mine and it gives me a huge sense of joy. Today I am making a pork roast in the crock pot. Taking some to a cousin for dinner since he doesn't cook. Think I might rake some leavs for someone today.

  2. Just stumbled on your blog today while searching about your "favorite" person!

    Love your blog! And I love the idea of a 39-deed pledge. Gonna have to think about this!

    Have a great day!

    ~Debra, a "neighbor" north of Everett :)

  3. Hey, Jenn --

    It sure DOES look like you're on your way! I think you learned the first trick I did: that there's plenty to do out there, if you keep your eyes forward. Thanks for checking out ONE GOOD DEED -- and spread the word!