Unexpected, big, romantic gestures are my specialty. This is a very surprising fact about myself since I have never really had a significant other to enact such gestures upon. So, I do these acts for my friends and for people who would least expect it from me. But I did not start off performing these actions one day—it gradually escalated from the simple to eventually the creative.
It all started when I was in grade school. I used to write stories starring myself and my friends from school. We would adventure far off to places, doing what no eight year could ever do (so basically my version of any children’s fiction novel, for example Harry Potter). It was through these writings I could finally get my thoughts and feelings together. When I realized how useful this medium could be, I began writing letters as a way to reveal to those I loved how much they really meant to me. Using the written word to express what I felt was better than the alternate–actually speaking it. I’ve made the mistake more than once to awkwardly work into a conversation the exact qualities I adored about a person. But a letter has the formality where such declarations are appropriate and almost encouraged. For years I wrote letters, and it was my only outlet in expressing my feelings toward another person.
I was around 17 when I realized how weighty my words were on the one who heard it. I had become close friends with a boy from another school when I realized this truth. We used to talk for hours on end after church, well, until my curfew strictly at 10 pm. It’s not that we said anything of significance to each other, we would talk about the mundanity school and what glory the days of college will hold for us. I didn’t even think he cared for those nights of endless talking because I felt like it was too similar to all my other conversations, one-sided with me never taking a breath between words. I soon found out that my friend looked forward to our conversations as much as I did. Not because I was infinitely wise at the ripe age of 17, but because someone wanted to listen to him as he wanted to listen to me.
There was no judgement to what we said on those nights but we were held accountable to our assertions made throughout the conversation. I realized that the reason I loved writing letters so dearly was because unlike the spoken word, written words have little accountability to them—at least not immediate accountability. The words I wrote expressed limited attachment to me. My written beliefs were much different than my spoken beliefs which were far from my enacted beliefs. I could write that I missed someone, but those words could never come from my lips, and I could live a life that proved I did not notice the absence of the person. I realized how cowardly written words were.
I stopped writing for a while and switched to doing small things for my friends to find a balance in expressing my feelings compared to holding it in until I had the opportunity to write it to them.
You see, I think people are too scared to do any such acts for others because they fear that it would send the wrong signals. But if your intentions are pure and clear, you can never go far enough to make someone feel like they deserve to be treated special. I would do the same for all my friends, and I try to everyday I am with them. Everyone always talks about how short life is, but I promise you, it’s not short enough that you can’t stop thinking about your busy schedule for just a second.
Maybe these gestures aren’t unexpected, big, and romantic at all. Maybe “just-because” thank you cards to someone you appreciate, cupcakes because you noticed someone was having a rough week, or a bag full of their favorite snacks are not specifically romantic. They are just unremembered acts of kindness and love, like Wordsworth expressed in this poem, done for a person just for being themselves. Because for the majority of people I come into contact with, it’s ridiculous that someone has not done something to that extent before.
If we are to “be the change we wish to see in the world,” as Gandhi had said, we have to do things that are much unlike we see enacted on an everyday basis. If you wish that people felt deserving of love and specialness, what is stopping you from showing them? (I’ll give you a hint. It’s you.)