After a couple of hours of distributing the 70 plus bag lunches to the homeless, we were finished. Now on our way home I asked a friend who had come along to help, how she was feeling. Kate, an influential lawyer, shows up regularly whenever our group of volunteers make lunches for the homeless population of Los Angeles.
“I feel such gratitude. I realize in giving out lunches how much I’ve been holding onto from the previous week. It’s so incredible, you should write a blog about it.” I heard her window slide open, and glanced in my rear-view mirror at her relaxed face taking in the breeze from the freeway, as if she were leaning into the wind aboard a swift sailboat. Could you clarify, I asked?
“Write about how doing service cures anxiety,” her tone suggested my lack of insight in her change of mood. “It works, now you write it!” She closed her eyes in serene bliss and gave over to whatever fantasy the wind and the sun on her face were stirring up.
The above clearly illustrates to me what I have taken for granted in the twenty plus years doing small selfless acts of humanitarian relief. I often forget, but witness countless friends and strangers all saying the same thing, that when they serve someone else, with no thought of getting anything back, their anxiety about their own lives is forgotten in that moment. Sometimes, these good feelings will last well into the following week.
Rather than go into a whole psychological treatise and alienate a lot of people, I’d just like to summarize the following. I observe that when someone looks beyond their own discomfort and helps someone who is hungry or suffering and lacking in what most take for granted and then follow up with an exchange be it a meal, a blessing, a hug or something else they may need, the universe will hand them back their own suffering hearts now filled to the brim with good feelings.
]ohn Shinavier, volunteer