Pay It Forward

Calling All Angels
by Marie T. Russell

I just saw the movie “Pay It Forward” which I had missed when it first came out in the movie theaters. Paying it forward… What a powerful concept! If you haven’t seen this movie, please do! (Or read the book.)

Everyone should see this film or at least be exposed to the concept. In case you don’t get a chance to see the movie, let me share the premise with you.

Paying it forward is a method of passing on a favor that has been done for you — but rather than “paying back” the person that did you the favor, you “pay it forward” — you do a big favor for three other people. It is a Ponzi or pyramid “scheme” you might say, but with the goal of changing our world, three people at a time.

So we start with each one of us individually. You start (and I start) by doing three people a really big favor, a life-changing favor, something that the person can’t do for themselves. Then that person is “required” to “pay it forward”. In other words, rather than “pay you back” for the favor, they “pay it forward” to three other people. If every person pays it forward to three other people, and each of those people also do a favor for three others, it grows exponentially. Your part is not complete until three of the people that you have helped have agreed (after they’re “received” your favor) to “pay it forward”.

When his classmates express that this idea is “crazy” or in the words of his teacher “utopian”, Trevor responds “So?” In other words, yes it is a vision of a perfect world… “So?” Every project has to start someplace… You’ve heard the expression I’m sure: “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Well, changing the world also doesn’t happen in a day, but it must start with one step, and then another, and another. But we must start somewhere… And where do we start?

In the movie, “Pay It Forward”, a school teacher (played by Kevin Spacey) gives his 7th grade students an assignment… they are to find a way to change the world… And “paying it forward” is the concept of a 12 year old child (played by Haley Joel Osment) who later believes his project has failed because his three “favors” did not “succeed”, at least in his eyes.

He sees paying it forward as a way to not only help people, but to “fix a person”… and he feels the people he helped were not “fixed”… but, we cannot judge the effect of our one action. Each action has repercussions out into the Universe that we may have no idea are taking place (as we see in the movie).

When you help someone, or give love (a smile or gratitude) to a tired store clerk, that energy makes a difference, and that difference then affects whoever else the person will touch… One person at a time… We don’t know where our one action, or our one smile, or our one good deed will lead. We may not see the change, but like ripples in a pond after a small pebble is thrown in, the change continues and expands and spreads out and out.

Just think of it… If each one of you reading this did one “big” thing to help someone, to help transform their life… something they couldn’t do on their own (we don’t want to enable co-dependency, but rather give someone a chance for a new start…).

The film ends (no I won’t tell you the ending) with a song “Calling All Angels”… calling all of us, all of us who are angels in human form to come forward and participate in this world-changing experience. We are all here with a purpose… and whatever that individual purpose, it is part of a greater purpose of healing ourselves and the world… Changing the world one person at a time… starting of course with ourselves.

So, I’m calling all angels! Yes, that’s you. Let’s start paying attention as 12 year old Trevor tells us… start paying attention to
what people need… And then, let’s be there… Let us take action and make a difference… anytime we can, even when there is “nothing in it for us”… Even when it is not expected of us… Even when we don’t even know the person that we will be helping… Even when we will have no chance of personal reward or recognition…

Pay it forward… Help the people you come across… Life-changing events or not… Hold a door open for someone… Give someone a hand… Smile at a store clerk and mean it! Whatever you can do to help spread the force of Love, do it! If you want to, make it a plan to do three “small” favors a day… Giving a helping hand to someone, letting someone who looks stressed get ahead of you in line at the checkout counter, letting someone cut ahead of you in traffic instead of stepping
on the gas, sending love to someone instead of impatience… Let your heart guide you… Do things for people… Give love a chance…

We can also put 12-year-old Trevor’s idea in action… Do something “big” for someone and pass it on… Let us all pass it on… Let’s express the love that we know is needed by us, and by others… Let’s empower ourselves and others… Let’s be angels for the others we meet… Let us be the Spirit in action that we are… Let’s “pay it forward”… Let’s pass on the Love… Let’s be the change that we want to see in the world. Is it time to stop complaining about how terrible the world is, and time to start doing something about it? …one person at a time…

Together we can do it… Each one of us at a time spreading the love and the light… Calling all Angels!

Quotes from 12-year-old Trevor in “Pay It Forward”:

“It’s hard. You can’t plan it. You have to watch people more. Sort of keep an eye on them… to protect them… cause they can’t always see what they need. It’s your big chance to “fix something” that’s not like your bike… You can fix a person…”

“I think some people are too scared… that things could be different. I guess it’s hard for some people who are so used to things the way they are, even if they’re bad, to change… cause, I guess, they kind of give up. When they do, everybody kind of loses…”


Some of the lyrics from the closing song: “Calling All Angels”

then it’s one foot then the other as you step out onto the road
how much weight? how much weight?
then it’s how long? and how far?
and how many times before it’s too late?

calling all angels calling all angels
walk me through this one
don’t leave me alone
calling all angels calling all angels
we’re cryin’ and we’re hurtin’
and we’re not sure why…

but if you could…do you think you would
trade in all the pain and suffering?
ah, but then you’d miss
the beauty of the light upon this earth
and the sweetness of the leaving

calling all angels calling all angels
walk me through this one
don’t leave me alone
callin’ all angels callin’ all angels
we’re tryin’ we’re hopin’
we’re hurtin’ we’re lovin’
we’re cryin’ we’re callin’
because we’re not sure how this goes…

Written and performed by Jane Siberry

The most important angels are the human ones you can see, hear, and touch.

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