What if every single day, people from every nation used their birthdays to do something different, something for someone else? What if birthdays became less about getting stuff, getting attention, getting drunk and getting older, and more about making the world a better place?'
What if, indeed . . .
The above words are not our own, but those of Robyn Bomar. So inspiring is Robyn's story, we just had to share it with you.
Robyn considers her 38th birthday to be the best birthday she has ever celebrated. Indeed, other than the days on which she got married and gave birth to her two children, it was, she says, the best 24 hours of her life.
To mark turning 38, Robyn didn't get drunk or seek attention and gifts. Instead, she carried out random acts of kindness - 38 of them in all - in her hometown of Destin, Florida.
These included dropping coins in the playground for children to find, paying for the cars behind her own to cross a toll bridge, delivering hand-written thank-you notes and doughnuts to the local police station and donating unwanted clothes to a homeless shelter.
Robyn (and her helpers) taped change to vending machines, pumped another driver's gasoline so that she didn't have to get out of her car in the cold, read stories to children in a bookstore and left a small gift for her family's mailman. In doing deeds large and small, Robyn made an extraordinary difference.
'[At the end] we were exhausted and exhilarated, but mostly reminded [that] opportunities to help others are around us all the time,' she says. '[It's just that] we're usually too busy to notice.'
This is a remarkable tale, without question, but what makes it even more inspiring is the knock-on effect that it is having. Rachel Scott once wrote about a 'chain reaction of kindness' making 'a ripple around the world'. Robyn's efforts are doing just that . . .
So much so that, in recent times, she has set up The Birthday Project, an organization devoted to inspiring others to perform such acts of kindness. The response has been staggering.
'I was overwhelmed by the number of texts, Facebook messages, Tweets and emails I received from friends, family, colleagues and people I didn't even know, telling me [about] a random act of kindness they did in honor of my birthday,' Robyn explains. 'I cried several times throughout the day [because of] how touched I was.'
The 38 deeds in themselves are great, but it is this - inspiring others, setting an example and prompting that chain reaction of kindness - that is Robyn's greatest achievement. It takes quite a long time to read all the comments beneath her blog. That says it all . . .
Among those to have been inspired by Robyn is a young film-maker from Pakistan called Syed Muzamil Hasan Zaidi. Having read Robyn's blog, he too spent his birthday doing good for others, albeit in a somewhat different environment, as we'll explain at a later date.
For now, all of us here at OM HQ would like to commend and congratulate Robyn, for proving that we all have it in us to make a difference in the lives of others and that all it takes is a little energy, imagination and the determination to succeed.
Here's to her, here's to random acts of kindness and here's to changing the world one birthday at a time. If you're among that select group of 19 million people today, happy birthday, we hope you use it well . . .