Fast and Furious Kindness

Friday, December 13, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)

I am no Paul Walker aficionado.  Let me start there.  I think I saw two of the Fast and Furious movies, and one took place in Tokyo and I can't even recall if he was even in that one, what with all the drifting.  I guess the fact that I am describing my familiarity with Paul Walker in terms of Vin Diesel movies is really a statement in itself.  But I do have something to say about how he has been remembered after his recent and untimely passing.

Again, I'm not sitting here in judgment of how Paul Walker lived his life.  There has been more than one mention of Paul's 7-year relationship with his girlfriend, regarding the moral fortitude of dating a 16-year-old when you are 33.  That's not me.  That's not this.

In death, Paul Walker has been remembered for one day in a jewelry store 9 years ago.

You can follow that link, or google the incident, but here is what happened.  Mr. Walker goes into a jewelry store, meets an Iraq solider back from deployment shopping for an engagement right with his girlfriend.  They start to talking.  The dimpled actor apparently kept egging the girlfriend on, telling her to go bigger and bigger with her ring choice. As often happens, the vet's girlfriend got particularly taken with one ring that just happened to be big enough to be out of the couple's price range.  Shortly thereafter, the couple left the store to continue their search . . .

. . . only to have the women who worked at the store come running out to give them a box and say, "here's your ring."    Apparently, Mr. Walker had called the store and told them to put the couple's ring on his tab (he has a tab?).  Anonymously.  This story only came out after all those involved heard of Mr. Walker's  passing and wanted his kindness to be known.

Solid stuff. Heartwarming stuff.

But the moral of this story is not that Paul Walker transcended winning the genetic jackpot while still remaining humble.  It isn't even a tale on how the rich and famous can make real change with all the means at their disposal.

Paul Walker had a laundry list of public accomplishments. He was on all the 50 Most Beautiful lists. He appeared in such legendary TV shows as Charles in Charge, Who's the Boss, and Touched by an Angel.  Not to mention his iconic starring roles in Varsity Blues, She's All That, & Into the Blue.   But all people can talk about in the wake of his untimely demise was one moment of genuine compassion.  That is the lesson.

The lesson is that moments of true generosity, financial or otherwise, transcend the normal parameters of accomplishment and success. They are on another level.  What this shows is that regardless of your means, those moments when you consciously reach outside of yourself to lessen another person's load, simply because you both share the same planet. Those moments are unforgettable.  They are the real currency we should be worshiping towards a better tomorrow.

When I was 12 years old, the grumpy mean gym teacher at my middle school paid me a compliment on my volleyball skills. Never forgot it.  While hitchhiking from the Sinai Peninsula to northern Israel as an 18-year-old, a trucker picked my friend and I up, let us relax on the bed in the sleeper car, and gave us fresh croissants.  He brought us the lion's share of the way to our northern destination.  Never forgot it.  In elementary school a kid punched me in the face and subsequently broke his hand (my glasses doing the lion's share of the damage).   Never forgot it.  (ok, that doesn't quite fit, but it is super funny.)

When I got my first bartending gig in the business district of New York City, a distressed father came into the bar post-work, lamenting his inability to connect with his child while simultaneously being the family disciplinarian. I suggested that perhaps he should consider how scary might appear to his son when he is angry -- how a father is already larger than life inside his son's mind -- and that when he screams, it has the potential to not only drive home a life lesson, but to also be terrifying.  And something seemed to click. It was like you could see him realize that he had been inadvertently scar(r)ing his son instead of merely teaching him right from wrong.  He had some sort of moment of clarity.  He tipped me an extra $60 on top of the tip he had left with his bill.  Never forgot it.

The point is this: If you want immortality, if you want to be remembered forever, the path is paved in good deeds and selfless acts.  Cause even if you do manage to make millions of dollar, sleep with endless beautiful people, you'll probably still be remembered by those honest moments when you decided to be the best version of yourself for a stranger.

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