Let’s face it: we all get stuck in the blues every once in a while and can’t seem to find the exit. Plan ahead! The best way to get outside of yourself is to do something for someone else. They need not be someone worse off than you. Whenever I have the opportunity to help, I jump in! As a result, I stave off depression almost completely. I very seldom find myself at a pity party where I am my own guest of honor anymore.

When you leave your house, be observant and make mental notes or even written notes as reminders of things you see that need to be taken care of. The possibilities are limited only by your abilities. Some examples include:

    1. Weeds in the gutters and in cracks in the sidewalk.
    2. Shrubs that need to be pruned blocking the neighbor’s window.
    3. A gate hinge that needs a couple of screws.
    4. An elder who is having a hard time getting around to walk their dog.
    5. A stuck garage door.
    6. A trash can that has been knocked over and needs to be picked up.
    7. Litter, litter and more litter.
    8. A strip of grass that needs to be mowed.
    9. A pot hole to fill in the alley near your house.
    10. A mailbox leaning to one side.

The Day I Died in an Airplane Crash
and Lived to Talk about It

I’m sure at some point most of you have heard or read somewhere the statement that "We are all one." Many dismiss this idea outright as psychobabble. But I know it to be fact and I have a very odd story to back it up.

I was 22, it was Friday April 13, 1984, and I was home alone. I had laid down on the sofa to take a nap at about 1 p.m. I was lying on my side, relaxed, and then felt a strange magnetic pull between my upper and lower molars and a vibration like a buzzing feeling. I was hearing some kind of radio signal com- ing from inside my mouth! It sounded like a conversation between police and a dispatcher. The only other person I’ve ever heard of this happening to is Gil- ligan on an episode of Gilligan’s Island, so I never talk about it. Since there was no one home to see if they could hear it too, I listened to the sounds for a few minutes and then drifted off to sleep.

I immediately found myself taxiing down the runway of our local commercial airport. It was a beautiful sunny day with almost no ocean breeze. I was in a very small single seat airplane that I had built myself. My plane left the runway, and I was climbing several hundred feet in altitude. Then I banked to the left to head south directly over the water’s edge at Clam Beach. Once I finished the turn, I attempted to level the wings and right the plane, but I could not—some- thing was wrong. The cable that controlled my left flap was stuck and there was only one thing I could do from inside the plane to fix it: it was a lever to the left of my seat. I pulled and pulled, but it was no use. I could not fix it from inside the plane. It was instantly clear the plane was going down. I was going to crash and probably not survive. I don’t recall being frightened, just resolved, with no one but myself to blame. I took a deep breath, like before you jump off a diving board, and the fraction of a second before impact, I found myself standing on the bank facing the ocean. I watched the plane crumple into the beach, sending a rooster tail of sand into the air.

Then bam! I’m awake—wide awake. I got up immediately. I ran across the street and told the whole story to my best friend, Helen. It was so vivid and so real. Later that day, I was making dinner and my phone rang. It was Helen. She was hysterical, shouting, "Turn on your TV!!" I turned on the TV and there on the screen was the crumpled plane—as if I’d taken the picture myself.

The doctor who set my arm when I was 12 had gone up in a single seated experimental plane that he made himself, and crashed into the sand at 1:20pm that afternoon, while I was sleeping... I wasn’t just with him, I was him, and that radio signal was not police dispatch, but Air Traffic Control. It’s all about vibra- tion. I believe it was that radio signal in my teeth that took me to the airport at that moment.

So NOW I KNOW... We are all One-like cells on an elephant. You might be a cell in a blood vessel in an ear and I might be a cell in a toenail, but we all share the elephant—without us, there is no elephant. Because of this, I’ve spent my life being what others would call a goody two-shoes. But what we do to our fellow beings, we do to ourselves, and what we do for our fellow beings, we do for ourselves.


The Act of Kindness Exercise

Part 1

Over the course of four days when you leave your house, be observant and make mental notes of things you see that need to be taken care of and could use your care/attention to fix. Write them down: location, task, and time it will take to fix.

Part 2

Pick one task from your list and do it. Document it with a photograph, before and after.

Part 3

Write a note to a recipient of your random act of kindness, suggesting that they follow your example by passing it forward. Thank them for doing some- thing nice for someone else.


Part 1

Location    B Street and Simpson Street.

Task           Helping hang poster.

Time          Three minutes maximum per poster.

Location     C Street and Hillsdale Street.

Task            Putting a nail into the board.

Time           Less than 30 seconds.

Location     C Street and Hillsdale Street.

Task            Pulling weeds and bagging them.

Time           Less than 90 minutes.

Location     Hillsdale Street.

Task            Weed whacking tall grass.

Time           10-15 minutes.

Location     11th Street and F Street.

Task            Bleaching and scrubbing the mold.

Time           Six hours.

Part 2

Part 3