I showed up early, got to work, and wasted no time busting down walls, tearing up floors and disposing all my anger and hatred into the dumpster out at the curb. With each load I dumped, I whispered a quiet goodbye to my past.
My friend thanked me for helping him and of course wanted to pay me for the job. I found it hard to justify accepting the money, because I felt like he did me a real favor by letting me pretend those walls were my old boss. But he insisted and paid me what he'd pay a day laborer. I took the cash and went home. After a long, hot shower I retreated and sat alone in the quiet of my basement office where I began to feel the emotional as well as the physical pain of the day wash over me.
I closed my eyes and could feel my shoulders tighten into big unwanted knots. I shook each time my rubbery arms I lifted the glass of water to my mouth. And whenever I thought of my old job, my lower back began to twist and pinch me most painfully. My body was clearly telling me I still needed to do more work on myself. I had to get in shape physically while working out my bitterness emotionally. Holding on to it only made me more twisted. Letting go would free the pain.
I can only imagine my friend went home that night with simular pain. His more physical than anything else. I am sure he slept well that night knowing he had done something nice for someone in need. The lesson I learned, something that is so well known but often overlooked, is that when we help people it actually makes us feel better about ourselves.
There's been research on the rewards of volunteering and helping others that is worth reading. The Los Angeles Times published a great article on the wonderful mental and physical health benefits of doing good for others.