Gratitude: Paying it Forward

Posted by Amber Charette

            In the seventh grade, my school held an annual 'movie day' for my entire grade. I loved these days, for the obvious reasons of just simply enjoying watching movies and for getting out of a few periods of class. The movie chosen for this particular year is one that to this day inspires me. It was "Pay it forward", which was released in 2000 as a motion picture and was adapted from the novel written by Catherine Ryan Hyde in 1999. Now I won't unveil the entirety of the plot, but I can tell you the main synopsis and assure you that the power of the movie will not be ruined for anyone who has yet to see it but is interested. Though, I hope that everyone will go back and watch this film again regardless of whether it has already been watched. Anyway, moving on...

            Essentially, the storyline is about a young boy who is given an assignment by one of his teachers. The assignment is vague and open-ended: to create a plan of action that will help to better the world in some form. Trevor, the main character of the film, takes this assignment to heart, and forms the idea of "paying it forward" after he meets and helps a homeless man. "Paying it forward" basically means what it implies-that when someone helps you out in some way, you do the same for someone else. In this way, a chain is created where people are performing good deeds, which are then passed down to others. Though the homeless man is the one to introduce Trevor to this concept, it is Trevor who puts his all into really trying to make this concept a part of everyday life for people. Thus, the rest of the film illustrates Trevor's valiant attempt at putting this "pay it forward" theory into action.

            Now, at the time of watching this film, I have to be honest in saying that I didn't really understand its depth or how poignantly powerful it was. In fact, I pretty much didn't even pay much attention to it as I didn't really understand the plot very well at all. But after watching the film again a few years later (and after maturing a lot more intellect wise), Trevor's "pay it forward" theory really moved and resonated with me. And what made this even more touching to me was that Trevor's character was in the seventh grade-the same grade I was in when I first watched the film. What I am trying to get at here, is if a twelve-year-old can introduce such an innovative and selfless concept for people to follow, then imagine what we all can do as adults.

            After watching the movie the second time, I decided to Google it just out of curiosity. What I found was that there is now a real-life "Pay it Forward" movement that exists to pass on the power of this concept. For those interested in learning more about this non-profit organization here is the link:

            Finally, in case you didn't take notice, I titled this article "Gratitude: Paying if forward". But what I haven't done yet is explain how gratitude and this concept are connected. Well, if it's not blatant enough, I personally believe that one of the strongest ways of showing gratitude is to do something good for others in return. Hence the spiel I just made on "paying it forward". I am aware, however, that gratitude can be shown in other ways as well and that it can mean different things to people. Thus, I'd like to end by just throwing out some ideas as to how you all can show gratitude not only now but in everyday life. With that said, here's a few of the ideas I came up with: say thank you when someone does something for you, even if it's as simple as holding the door open for you, call your family every so often to tell them you love and miss them, show your professor's that you appreciate their time by really engaging in class, help a friend out who is struggling in a class that you aced, and take some time once in awhile to think about all the good things you have in your life that others who are less fortunate do not. 

Conversationalist Column: Betty

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