Tag Archive for 'pay-it-forward'

Thursday’s Inspiration Information — Special Agent L

“You don’t need much to change the entire world for the better. You can start with the most ordenary ingredients. You can start with the world you’ve got.” –Leslie Dixon

In a summer of Russian spy espionage rings being uncovered in real life while Angelina Jolie single-handedly battles the Cold War sleeper-cell resurgence on the silver screen, it appears secret agents are popping up everywhere.  Yet just as the idea of 10 clandestine agents infiltrating our government offices and children’s soccer games terrifies us, it also thrills us to no end (SALT grossed over $100 mil in it’s opening week).  There is a profound tradition of fear and intrigue unleashed the human psyche when it comes to shadow figures, cloaked in the deep veils of undercover, on missions to unravel society’s darkest secrets.  We love the anonymity of sabotage, the basic conceit that one individual can cause enormous, potentially world-altering change through the ninja reflexes of infiltration and deceit.

But what if the entire idea of espionage was spun on its head?  What if instead of sabotage, there existed a vast network of undercover agents, all working to spread positivity and joy in the world?

Meet Laura Miller, aka Special Agent L.

This 32 year old Pittsburg native daylights as an administrative assistant, and moonlights as a rogue spy specializing in anonymous acts of kindness and day-brightening.  It all began one afternoon last July when a friend suggested to Laura that instead of a birthday present,  she perform a random act of kindness in her name.  Immediately Laura ventured out, purchased a single lavendar hydrangea, and tucked it under the windshield wiper of a stranger’s car.  In that instant, Special Agent L was born.

Since that fateful day, Agent L has engaged numerous mission throughout Pittsburg: from leaving a roll of quarters at a laundromat, a box of donuts for staff at the local bank, or decorative cards with inspirational quotes planted in public places for passers-by to discover ( just to name a few).  Each small act of kindness is tagged with a business card (much like the Smile Cards designed by Nipun Mehta) that states the following message:

“I think people are so hungry to not feel alone and not feel weird and that they don’t matter” says Laura.  ”People really want to feel valued and noticed because there’s so much hurt out there and my project is an attempt to heal some of that.”

Every week this “all around swell chick” tries to accomplish at least one mission, and you can follow all of her missions on her blogsite:  secretagentl.com Even better, if you are feeling inspired, you can sign up to become an ‘Affiliated Agent’ (there are currently over 80 worldwide) and join the underground movement of spreading smiles.

Thanks to CNN for the news article tip and to the lovely Laura Miller for igniting our imaginations with the allure and mystique of positive espionage.

This inspiration post will now self-destruct.

Tzedakah

Two days ago, Jackson wrote a post about the inspiring Dr. Massouda Jalal, and something he quoted that she said during the Q&A of her documentary Frontrunner, has resonated with me for days:

To die believing in nothing, serving no ideals, is to die without meaning.”

This hit me like a Truth Bolt!  And shaken out of my day-in-day out routine, I started thinking… about what I  believe in, and if I am fully serving my ideals. Day in-day out am I doing enough, am I doing my utmost to realize my dreams, to uplift or inspire or improve my world?  The fact that I am still pondering those questions seems to be a clear answer.

And this reminded me of the Sabbath meal I shared a while back with my Hasidic Jewish neighbors, and the concept they shared with me of Tzedakah. Which is the Hebrew word for charity, but embodies an entire philosophy similar to the idea of “pay-it-forward”, or Karma.  That is improving our world and thus our own lives through random acts of kindness.

Like the woman last week who randomly and happily bought me a pint of ice-cream at the local scoop shop.  Her reason: “Random act of kindness”.  So I turned and tipped the server the cost of my pint.  And that woman’s smile sticks with me.

In Orthodox Judaism tzedakah is seen as a religious obligation, which must be performed by all and is considered to be one of the most important parts of living a full spiritual life.  But imagine a world where everyone, everyday makes some kind gesture, big or small, to someone not expecting it.  The karmic ripple effect of positivity that might create.

It brings me back to Dr. Jalal’s quote, and the similiar famous saying by education reformer Horace Mann:”Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”

Does ice-cream change the world, or a tip?  Or these words, this post itself?  Probably not.  But I still remember that woman’s face, the simple joy she radiated.  It was rare.  Made my day.  Is that enough?  This post, even if it moves one person, is that enough?  Am I, are each and everyone of us doing enough every single day?  Can we do more?

The question is the answer.  Start small.  Spread Love.

-jordan