By Patricia Cannistraci
“Pay it forward”: a popular term used to describe a person’s response to an act of kindness, whereby the kindness is not paid back directly, but is instead passed on to a completely different person. This is an old concept, originally stemming from an ancient Greek play. However, despite popular accusations that modern culture is too high tech, too impersonal, and has lost its moral compass, paying it forward is still very much alive. In this season of giving thanks, we should all pause a moment and think about the nurses in our lives, and how paying it forward is “just what they do.”
Most nurses give little thought to the random acts of caring they routinely bestow upon others. These acts are simply woven into the fabric of their lives. In fact, when acknowledged for this behavior, many will reply with cavalier comments along the lines of “It’s just what I do” or “it’s no big deal.” But it is a big deal.
Consider the case of Kathleen Connors, a surgical nurse who stopped at a diner for breakfast on her way home from a night shift. She paid her bill, but in a random act of kindness, also picked up the tab for another couple, remarking that it was nice to see families eating together. She went home, thinking nothing of it. Unbeknownst to her, her act was repeated 46 times by other diners in the following six hours!
Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season. It consists of many traditions of gratitude and giving, congregating around the dinner table with family and friends, and enjoying the fruits of the harvest. We count our blessings. Regardless of ethnic or religious background, we are taught from an early age the utmost importance of being grateful. Enjoy this holiday in each other’s company. Acknowledge what we have: security and freedom. In a free country, gratitude is our common ground. Moreover, it makes the world go ‘round. Meister Eckhart once said, “If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”
The School of Nursing wishes you and your loved ones a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.