Last week something happened that genuinely moved me. Something happened that made me nervous, made me smile, made me tear up, and above all, made me feel good.

I was walking through the streets of downtown Charleston, South Carolina and passed a man playing music on a little Casio keyboard. I didn’t think anything of it and chalked it up to just another homeless person peddling for cash. We passed by and walked into a nearby restaurant to have dinner.

Almost immediately, as cliche as it sounds, an indescribable feeling came over me. I thought to myself that it seemed shitty that we were waiting for our named to be called at an upscale restaurant, while this man sat outside on the curb playing music to earn a few bucks. I gained a little perspective, told my wife that I’d be right back, and went back outside to talk to the man.

His name was John Middleton. I learned this after I handed him a $100 bill.

Why did I give John $100? Because it felt good. It felt right. And sometimes, that’s all that matters. It felt good to be in a position to contribute. It felt good to shake his hand – to learn his story – to exchange a couple laughs. To even share a couple tears.

I shook John’s hand, wrote down my contact information for him, and said goodbye. As I walked away, my heart was full and my eyes were open in a way that is often lost in the day to day hustle and grind.

I’ve said before that “The best thing you can do with your time here on earth is to contribute, in even the smallest way, to something bigger than yourself.”

Think about where you’d be right now if you listened to yourself. If you ignore doubt and fear and do whatever feels good and whatever feels right.

Maybe you’ll meet more awesome folks like John Middleton. Maybe you’ll change someone else’s life. Maybe you’ll change your own.

Join the conversation! 9 Comments

  1. BRAVO!! Matt!!

    These are the kinds of things I JUST LOVE Doing!!

    One night in the Local sharie’s Restaurant I saw a table of 4 policeman
    having dinner as I paid my bill It came to me to pick their bill up…Which I happily did.

    I have also started paying for others Lattaes at my local coffee stand every 2 weeks or so

    Be Blessed!

    Matt Geib

    Reply
  2. Wow!! That is such a great story to share. It does feel good to help out others. It makes such a huge difference in our lives when we can give. Thanks for reminding us how amazing it is to help.

    Reply
  3. Not to take away from your act of generosity, Matt, but John went first. He offered up something freely that some people discarded, some people took while offering nothing in exchange, and some people like you responded in kind. Probably it wasn’t a hundred dollar performance. But isn’t it great to give rather than merely exchange? It may even be a greater gift that you are talking about it. Thank you for sharing his name and making the former stranger John a real person to us.

    Reply
    • That’s a fair assessment, Kenneth. I’m glad that I stepped out of what seems normal to do something I believe felt right, and I’ll be forever grateful for the good tunes, the smile, and the warm handshake John gave me. It’s funny, when I handed him the money he just looked up and asked “why?” – My response? Because I wanted to and because I could. It felt good, and feels good to help others not because of sympathy or need, just because you want to and you genuinely believe it’s right. Cheers!

      Reply
  4. This is really great! I always feel like I should do something like this, but I question myself. I wanted to a few weeks ago but was with a group of people I didn’t know very well, so I didn’t do it. I should just stop and do it. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply
  5. Some of my favourite words are… ‘Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.’ :)

    Reply
  6. If you feel obligated, or is the ‘should’ word enters you head, then it’s not a gift. There can still be a reason to give in those circumstances, though the receiver may feel a sense of obligation back…

    Reply
  7. Little late on this response as I just came across your site a few days ago Matt. But…what a kind gesture! It’s unfortunate how many people will walk past those kinds of people and not even acknowledge their existence. Kudos to you!

    Similar experience I had when on a photo project. Street portraits. I photographed a homeless gentlemen in a wheelchair, with his consent, of course. Upon capturing his portrait I wondered when the last time he had his photo taken. Weeks later, when on part 2 of the same project I was fortunate enough to run into him again. I had printed his portrait prior, hoping for this moment. I presented it to him. :) No money. Just a portrait. Wrote about it in my blog if your interested in reading it Matt.

    http://www.bradtremblayphotography.com/blog/2014/6/street-portraits—downtown-windsor—part-ii

    On a side note, your site is filled with brilliant words. Came across it when searching for another photo project I’m working on. “WHATS YOUR LEGACY?”. Your article popped up.

    Superb work Matt. Truly.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

About Matt Cheuvront

I empower folks to do the work they want to do and live the life they want to live. Connect on Twitter or check out the work I'm doing at Proof.

Latest Posts By Matt Cheuvront

Category

life

Tags

, , , ,