May Day reminds me of how I’ve never been good the anonymous acts of kindness.
I do love to help. With three younger siblings there was always a child in need of shoe tied or a nose wiped. When I was old enough to babysit for other families, I delighted in sweeping the floors and doing the dishes to please the returning parents. By junior high, volunteering was vital in my life.
First as a lawyer, now as an executive coach, helping is my jam. An enneagram assessment affirms my identity as a Number Two—The Considerate Helper. Being kind is easy. Being anonymous not so much for me.
Unlike countless friends and family I could name (naming them would rob them of their incognito intention), I feel compelled to tell someone else about good things I’ve done. It’s quite unattractive.
I know people who’ve sacrificed vast quantities of time, money, and blood with most people in their life never knowing. For years they give and give without the need to mention it to a soul. The joy in their giving is enough.
When my children were growing up, we celebrated secret giving by making May Day deliveries. We fashioned little handled baskets with colored construction paper, filled them with candy and nuts, and hung them on the doors of neighbors. Ringing the bell and running away before anyone saw gave great delight to the giver.
For someone who is well loved by many, it both surprises and disappoints me to see how I seek assurance from the outside that I am a good person inside. Yet I make a boastful beg for the approval of others under the guise of simply sharing. In contrast to the joy in the giving, a sad dose of shame is delivered the instant I speak of the deed. While there are many out there inspiring good acts, I know myself too well to claim that’s my goal.
In this era of compulsory COVID adaptability, I now add staying silent more often to the list of useful skills to develop when the old ways of doing things no longer work.
Wanting to keep my neighbors safe, there will be no May Day baskets this year. I may do some other kind act, but I promise not to tell you if I do.
Happy May Day.