By Mike Pinto, IPLI Mentor & Principal at James Cole Elementary School
Forty years ago a former student from this community offered a nickel to a younger student who needed it in order to be able to get a recorder to play at school in music class. This offering was something the former student hadn’t thought of and had actually forgotten about, as we do when we go through life and our day-to-day. The nickel and the kindness, however, had an impact.
Recently this nickel-offering student was contacted by the younger student. She said the gift of that one nickel meant a lot to her because she was in a time of need and a kindness came her way. She always remembered that offering and always looked up to the student who offered it to her so willingly. Now the young student is an adult and she is at home, in hospice, and battling terminal cancer. She remembered that kindness, I am sure, in her reflections and reached out to the individual to explain its impact.
There are many times in life that I can reflect that an individual’s kindness has meant so very much to me. This kindness, like that nickel, may not have been thought of as anything special at the time by the giver, but to me it was impactful and difference-making. In that same vein, I have now walked the earth long enough that people will come up to me from my past and share a story, a comment I made, or an offering of assistance at my hand and explain to me how very important it was to them at the time and how grateful they still remain.
Two thoughts moving forward: One, you have many nickels in your pockets. These ‘nickels’ represent kindnesses that are ready to be shared with others. These ‘nickels’ may actually be of the monetary nature: A ten dollar bill offered to someone in need, buying the stranger’s meal in the drive thru lane behind you, or clothing or household goods donated instead of sold at a garage sale. These ‘nickels’ may also be acts you perform for others – margins if you will – that allow another a chance to breathe or a moment to complete a task. These could include mowing the grass, helping another with laundry, or offering to pick up a child from one event and take her to another. These ‘nickels’ could also be time spent simply listening, supporting, and not holding judgment. Simply being present. The other thought is that when we receive these nickels and they remain with us in our pockets, they jingle every once in a while. This jingle is a reminder of the deed done in our behalf by someone else. This jingle tells us as well that if we haven’t had a chance to reach out and offer thanks to the person who gave us that ‘nickel’, it’s time. Because one thing is for certain, as witnessed by the recorder story, life is absolutely short and can catch up to us quickly.
Feel that jingle in your front two pockets? One holds the ‘nickels’ you have received over your lifetime from others that have made such a difference to you. The other pocket holds the ‘nickels’ you have yet to offer the world. I’m not sure either pocket ever empties or can ever get too full.