Paying love and kindness forward – How the world should work

Moving on. Grief and relief in equal measure
2 February 2018
Sometimes I get scared…
5 March 2018

‘Be one of the good guys’. That’s one of only two life rules I give our young sons, (the other being ‘work hard’. Not sure how good I was at that when school age). ‘Be one of the good guys’ plays well I think as an overall philosophy, but also as a parent, it works suitably loosely when I need to haul them over the coals for any – rare of course – transgressions. These two rules might not make them rich, but I’m hoping it will make them, and others, happy. Far more important in my book.

Yesterday, on Valentine’s Day Eve, I received a fabulous note, via a stranger on LinkedIn of all places, reminding me of a kind, ‘go the extra mile’ gesture I had made over twenty years ago. At the time I worked for Disneyland Paris, as I had done since it opened in 1992. It was a magical, surreal time in my life, and on a daily basis I was able to do and witness amazing things. A hug with Tigger; a quick roller-coaster ride in my lunchtime; watching show rehearsals and testing new rides before any guest got anywhere near them; meeting ‘A list’ celebs, and Z list ones too, (most of them nice, honest); drinking gallons of Long Island Iced Tea in a Country ‘n Western saloon in the presence of genuine cowboys and native Americans. Yeehah!

I had completely forgotten, but the message on LinkedIn was from a US-based chap. He was letting me know that I had organised for him to access an out-of-bounds balcony, (also after park closing, equally naughty!) at the iconic ‘Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant. This gesture, doubtless breaking countless rules along the way, allowed Eugene to propose to his then girlfriend. 21+ years on, and with their 20th wedding anniversary looming, he was letting me know what I had helped him do, and what it had led to. I was incredibly touched that he found me and contacted me after all this time, and very moved to hear what a special memory I had contributed to.

Life as a disabled person, life with a progressive illness is tough beyond words, but I try to convey it as best I can. You’ll read in the newspapers and online, on social media and via our shouty campaigning about what we are missing, what we are losing, what injustices we are subjected to. This is painfully true and I’ll continue to scream it. But the other absolute truth is that millions of people out there are capable of overwhelming selflessness, thoughtfulness and kind gestures. Without these people in the world we would struggle to last a day.

Only late last year, a dear friend of mine launched a Crowdfunding campaign to buy me a funky off-road wheelchair worth a stupid amount of money. Donations piled in, and by January, the target was smashed! There were some amazingly high single contributions by individuals and companies, (thank you!). But I was equally touched by the many ‘Anons’ who contributed, or friends of friends and total strangers who did so. Or those who clearly couldn’t afford it and shouldn’t really have felt it necessary to help. But they still did. (Thanks in spades, thank you all!).

I understand that governments and oil and business and banking and corporations and all that malarkey are a big part of what makes the world go round. But rather than buying into Bitcoin, I would prefer to invest in kindness and empathy, as I have always aspired to. On second thoughts, maybe I’ll invest in Bitcoin too, so we can contribute to other fabulous Crowdfunding causes.

Please be one of the good guys, the payback can be enormous… (Feels a bit preachy, sorry. I’m on a mini high thanks to Eugene, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, and a wacky wheelchair with a red seat that is on order.)

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