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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pay It Forward

Pay it Forward was a trend that I was curious about, but didn't understand.  I'd seen the words pop up on Etsy, Deviantart, and a few other craft and art hubs.  Sadly, with increased laziness and humanity's increasing inability to articulate itself (despite most entertainment and social networking leaning towards text-based formats), the best explanation of what 'Pay It Forward' was and meant was something like this, "Well, you know.  Pay it forward.  Like you pay it forward."

I asked several different people who were running 'Pay It Forward' advertisements and promotions on their blogs, art hubs, and Etsy stores.  The answer was always something like, "Well, you know.  Pay it forward."  That's not an explanation!  That's a tease.  You've disappointed me again, humanity.  Why do I keep trusting you to do better?? 

So, I sort of shoved that curiosity to the side and focused on other things.  Since no one knew what Pay It Forward was, perhaps it was not important for me to know either.  That is, until one fine literary lady posted a Pay It Forward comment on her Facebook.  My reaction: Another chance to ask what the HECK this means!  Yes!
So, I asked Ann what does 'Pay It Forward' mean.  Being a former English teacher, she was happy to tell me.  It's like a chain letter, but instead of forcing people to repost some annoying message in their status for fear of non-existent reprisal, you substitute the gloom and doom for a good deed.  The theory is, that if it's handled CORRECTLY there's a recurring wave of good deeds and wonderful surprises that eventually works its way around the world.  Ann's Pay It Forward was geared towards crafting.  Golly Gee Willikers Batman!  That sounds great! 
OMG!  For real?
I joined in on her pay it forward...and immediately ran into problems.  Apparently, some people equate 'Pay it Forward' with 'Freebies' and are opportunistic scavengers who will not only assert, insist, and berate you until they get their free thing, but they will also belittle it and refuse to 'pay it forward' themselves.  You know who you are. 

What I learned from this whole thing was heartwarming (I think that was the point of it, actually).  By sticking yourself out there and becoming someone's beautiful surprise, you not only enable them to be someone else's surprise, but you boost their self-esteem and motivate them to try and learn something new themselves.  I have not delivered all of my Pay It Forward gifts, but the few that I have sent off to their new homes were met with glee and almost immediately a chain began to form.

My gift of yarn became mittens for someone who's always losing theirs, and the money that would have been spent on mittens was spent on supplies to make greeting cards, one those greeting cards was written in and given to an old woman, that old woman got up and made someone some cookies, those cookies were eaten at someone's craft party, the craft party spawned all manner of creations and it continues from there.  One, long, heartwarming chain of good deeds.  I hope that it continues beyond what I can trace and maybe, it will get to someone who really, REALLY needs an unexpected gift. 

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