Pay It Forward And Back Again
It is said that in order for a child to grow up and enter adulthood a happy, healthy person, that child usually only requires the significant positive impact of at least one adult in his or her life. It is a little bit of a mystery why this is so, but despite any abuse, neglect, illness or other hardship in the child’s life, this one adult helps to develop persistence, resiliency and also a sense of empathy for others. And these qualities help to mold a person, inculcating this fulfillment in the life they choose to lead.
It is worth repeating. Just one caring and nurturing adult is enough, despite the difficult situations that may arise in a child’s life, to lift up that child. One such adult in my life was my mother, who in my first Semester of college, suffered from a bicycle accident, leaving her in a coma for a number of days and a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) and accompanying dementia for the rest of her life. Her impact on me, first as the nurturing mother, my best friend, and later as a model of resiliency and a steward of life’s small miracles, has been humbling.
Since the day of the accident, a number of decades have passed and two related things have occurred. One, some additional adults have come into my life, helping me to overcome the grief of losing my friend and two, I hope that in my own ways, I have given back or passed forward the positive impact onto others.
Catherine Ryan Hyde wrote a novel called Pay It Forward. The concept kindled a movement, as people world over embraced helping others in need, who in turn, helped others in need. The ripple effect can set an underground fire ablaze. Each of us can be that one adult who impacts the life of one person who has struggled with difficulties, whether it be as a teacher, peer, or “simply” a random act of kindness offered to the person found sitting next to you. You will discover that really, nothing is simple, and the dividends are returned back in ironic twists of fate.
[Carol Countryman N., LCSW, LIMHP is a member of the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) Advisory Council. She currently works as a Clinical Social Worker providing individual, family and couples counseling at Orr Psychotherapy Resources in Lincoln, NE. She believes in the "it takes a village..." mindset to provide the best outcome for people.]