After much consideration, I think the time has come for this project to retire. In the process of doing this project I learned a lot. One of the biggest lessons I learned was to “Just do it.” instead of dithering and waffling back and forth. Doing this dithering results in being in a limbo of inactivity. You’re not saying “yes” or even “no” – you’re doing neither and not moving forward. This is what seems to stop so many from doing the kind things, or the amazing things they want to do.
For some time I was unsure whether or not 500 Kindnesses had run its course or not. As it turns out, I believe it has. It had an amazing run with almost 1,500 acts of kindness pledged over the course of nearly two years. Together Daegan and I had the ride of our lives – over 1,500 kilometres from our home in Toronto through Ottawa, Montreal, my home state of Vermont, and all the way down to New York City. We met many new friends both through the project and on our trip, and people shared so much inspiration with us. As I look at what I just wrote, I see that I have sort of come full circle. The original route was a direct one from Toronto to NYC with a tag line “One act of kindness for every mile” The direct route would have been 500 miles. Now, 2 years later, we have reached the milestone of 1 act of kindness pledged for every kilometre we rode.
The project really moved me as well. One can’t spend two years seeing people performing selfless acts of kindness of all sorts without changing your perspective about the nature of humanity. We’re surrounded by amazing people. A look at the newspaper may give you the idea that the world is filled mostly with selfish, greedy people. In two years I feel like I’ve been able to see an entirely different world from that.
As to what’s next? I have to say that I don’t really know. I feel, in part, I may have to let go of this before the next project will reveal itself to me. And meanwhile, I have a lot of things going on. I’ll be continuing to be a volunteer adult literacy tutor. A few months ago I began taking Hindi lessons from a man almost 50 years my senior and I hope someday to speak well enough that I can feel comfortable speaking it on a trip to India – perhaps even a bike trip. And I really want to connect to my own community more – to work at the food co-op, to grow food in the community garden, to connect with my neighbours and friends. And when the inspiration hits, it may be time for another big project.
And as for Daegan and I, well, the greatest gift this project gave me was my connection with my son. I’d like to say that our 25 day journey last summer was a “once in a lifetime” experience, but hopefully it won’t be. We’ll still be traveling together – possibly by tandem bicycle again, possibly not. The destination and means of travel are to be determined.
Thank you all for your support – for making pledges, for sharing your homes with me, for inspiring me, and for letting me share my own journey with you.