“A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint…. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.”
— Henry David Thoreau
How many times have you read a book, then taken action?
Did John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath move you to do something to help alleviate poverty?
Did Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring inspire you to find out who was polluting your streams?
Did Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol give you that push to be a little more compassionate and more generous at Christmas?
Perhaps not. It’s perfectly ok, fine, normal, and expected to read for your pleasure. Reading passively is a wonderful elixir for a stressful day, and settling in with a good book is one of the great pleasures in life.
But not all books, documents, blogs, and signs are meant to be read passively. They are written with action in mind. Some authors write to spread an idea or to find ways to make our more peaceful world. And as readers, we can honor the author’s words by acting in order to make the author’s words become reality.
Tonight, I was pleased to be able to act upon an inspiration I read from David Friemans’s fine blog Intentional Acts Of Kindness. David is doing his own year-long challenge to do some kind act everyday. He lives in New Jersey, the only other state in the union that doesn’t allow motorists to pump their own gas. Last week, he brought a bottle of Gatorade to the gas station attendant who pumped his gas in the blistering heat. When I read his post I thought, “I can do that.”
Tonight I got the opportunity to act. When my son and I stopped at the gas station after taking a load to the dump, I handed Zachary $20 and asked him to go get himself something to drink and a few extra Gatorades. After the attendant pumped our gas, he gave us the receipt, and wiped his very sweaty brow. That swipe was my indicator to give him a couple bottles of the lemon-lime drink my son had brought back. The attendant responded instantly, “Thanks! Appreciate it.”
As my son and I drove away, Zachary said, “Ahhh, that’s why you wanted the extra Gatorade.” I told him that I had a feeling the attendant might like some. In reality, the only feeling I had at that moment was a little joy.
I was just happy to have “readacted.”
Yesterday’s gift of time … Gave a couple bottles of Gatorade to a very sweaty gas station attendant.
New word – Readact. (v) To read, then act.