When we were planning the trip, and orchestrating our kindness activities, I told Zack we would have “fillers.” On National Park Days, heavy driving days, or days where we didn’t have a set service project, we would find what we dubbed, “fillers.” These are the kindness activities that don’t require planning. Sometimes this looks like paying for the person’s coffee behind you or helping a neighbor shovel snow.
Sometimes it looks like a Nature Valley granola bar.
When I arrived at the Grand Canyon on July 9th, I was blown away. Zack asked me to describe it in one word, and I said “fake.” It’s so surreal it almost doesn’t feel like you are looking at a tangible thing. While I was looking forward to so many things about the road trip, the Grand Canyon was definitely something I was eager to see.
We began our hike down Bright Angel Trail – a short jaunt – in the afternoon. We would smile at people as we went. During a water break, we chatted with a Boy Scout Troop Leader. On our return trip to the top of the canyon, we had stopped at a rock to drink water and catch our breath.
A little behind us was a man around our age who just looked spent. I offered him water, which he said he already had. I looked back into my bag past the map and the sunscreen and saw a granola bar. It wasn’t much, but I offered it as well.
I’ll take you up on that, he said.
He walked over to our rock and sat down as we drank water and he snacked on the granola bar. He had been hiking since the morning – far longer and farther than we had – and, while he came prepared with water, he had foregone food and was cramping up and exhausted. He was also hiking alone.
We sat with him for a bit chatting about where we were from and where we were going. We spent the rest of the hike walking with him until we split ways at the top – him bound for a drink at the hotel and us eager to set up our tent at the campsite.
We didn’t plan on giving someone a granola bar when we woke up that morning. We weren’t even sure if a granola bar could mean anything to anyone. But sometimes a smile is the start of friendship and sometimes a snack can be holy.
Don’t think you have to plan some elaborate service project. Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone else is be aware. Open your eyes. Hear what people aren’t saying. Be there – not just for your friends and family, but for the friends you haven’t made yet, for the strangers you pass on the street, for the quiet kid who sits at the back of the classroom, for everyone – no exceptions. Sometimes a little can be a lot.