Pay it Forward

The SOFA show (Sculptural Objects and Functional Art) was held at Navy Pier’s exhibition space this past weekend.

While the featured artwork, largely exquisite blown glass and home décor, is beyond my budget, I enjoy walking down the aisles, eager to see if something registers in my brain for surprising whimsy or unadulterated invention.

I planned to meet some friends there on Friday afternoon then go out to dinner as part of one of my gal pal’s birthday celebration. My Friday work schedule got re-arranged late in the week, and I had to forego the art show as a group experience. I met everyone at a neighborhood Greek restaurant for dinner later in the evening.

Between saganaki and kolokithokeftedes (zuchinni fritters), I asked the birthday girl for her thoughts on SOFA highlights.

She explained how the group organized their tour of the space and effused about seeing everything in less than three hours. She threw her admission ticket on the table and looked at me.

“I was gifted a three-day pass as part of a birthday gift. Would you want to go?”

As I graciously accepted the ticket, I started to reflect on the concept of PAYING IT FORWARD.

It’s wonderful at any time to get an unexpected gift. It feels like a bonus when you can see the occasion as being part of a larger phenomena, as a step in the continuous cycle of giving and receiving.

As I took the ticket and slid it into a special compartment in my purse, I considered the exchange of energy.

Nicki received this ticket as a gift, in some ways as recognition how she demonstrated herself to be a good friend over the years.

She offered the ticket to me because she had enjoyed the gift and understood that it still had value to someone, like me, who hadn’t yet been to the show and appreciates displays of creativity.

Yes, she passed it on to me in friendship, but my bigger impression was that she passed it on to someone who would use it.

When we clean our closets of clothes we no longer wear and donate them to different charities, we might want to make some space in our lives, but we’re also taken by the idea of moving resources to the place of greatest need, or greatest appreciation.

While I didn’t make efforts to find someone who might use the pass on the third day of the show, as it got me thinking about paying blessings forward, the initial gesture of generosity continued to echo.

Of course, I’d like to think I would share any windfall that came my way, but there are opportunities everyday to PAY IT FORWARD.

Maybe the most important thing I value and can pay forward is my own good state.

Yes, I still want things that I don’t have, but I feel very fortunate. I have come to value myself more than I have at other times in my life; my wisdom, my imagination, special efforts, my good intentions.

Rather than anger or frustration, anxiety, entitlement or jealously -– I’d like to think I can always share my good energy. I have worked hard at cleaning myself up on the inside. Taking care of one’s own energy then being mindful of how we always pay it forward, whether it’s hopeful and life affirming or bitter, represents how we gift the world with our footprints here.

After spending a few hours at the SOFA Show at Navy Pier Saturday, I took the #66 bus down Chicago Avenue to go to the State Street subway stop.

I locked gazes with a very slight woman just slightly older than me. We glanced at the smart phone occupied millennials around us and the jostled passengers loaded down with over-sized bags from fancy Michigan Avenue stores. We smiled at each other.

She got off the bus one stop before I did. As she walked in front of me on the way to the door, she said, “Have a nice day.”

Looking people that cross my path in the eyes and smiling, consciously sending them kindness and respect, shared humanity, is no small thing.


  1. Shared! I’m pretty sure a few friends would like to read this.

  2. The SOFA show and the author point my attitude of gratitude towards simple moments when perhaps we all pay it forward.
    How many times has a person relaxed and enjoyed the cozy comfort of a snuggling blanket and too many pillows on, you guessed it, your sofa. Perhaps an hour or more of even simply gazing or binge watchingwatching favorite video series. The point being, there was frolicking goodness with you yourself and just you.
    Soon the blanket gets folded, the pillows aranged just so…and Shazam…the perfect pay it forward moment. Who can now nonchalantly walk past their sofa without even a glimmer or twinkle in their eyes of the awaiting joy of comfortable bliss just patiently waiting for your day to slow down enough for you to bring the tea cup and ‘chill’ on the paid for it ‘sofa’

  3. nosmalladmin says:

    Thanks for your note. Yes, it’s funny to think, but we can all “pay it forward” by bringing our best energy into the world.

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