The Grateful Dead and Random Acts of Kindness

When I was 12, my babysitter gave me the cassette tape “American Beauty” by The Grateful Dead. The rest is a long, strange trip. I saw my first show at Boston Garden and about 30 shows after that all around New England and the Mid-Atlantic before Jerry Garcia died. (Sadly, I seem to have lost my album full of ticket stubs in one of the moves over the years.)

Yes, for those who do not yet know me well, I am a serious Deadhead. There is no other music that has the capacity to cheer and bring me back to center like that of the Dead. It’s definitely on the labor and delivery playlist, and I love when my almost 3 and almost 5-year-olds request “Ripple” as a bedtime song. (They ask my husband to sing them “Home Sweet Home” by Motley Crue – as you can see, we have divergent musical sensibilities, though I like that hair ballad myself!)

Anyway, as I recall, the story of the Grateful Dead goes something like this: a traveller came upon the corpse of a debtor and took it upon himself to arrange a proper burial before going on his way. Later, the soul of that corpse joined the traveller and repaid the stranger’s act of kindness before revealing himself to be that grateful dead person. Today I was the recipient of some random acts of kindness for which I am feeling extremely grateful.

You see, I was goin’ down the road feeling bad today, hot, tired, and afraid of 33 more hugely pregnant days like this, wishing it still felt like the coldest summer on record. So I took a break for lunch, listened to Sirius Channel 32, and felt revived. When I came back to my office I was gifted two wonderful acts of kindness.

First, I received an email message from a client to inform me that she had just posted a great review for me. She had also passed along my contact information to a couple friends of hers who, after listening to her express relief in having done so for her family, expressed interest in pursuing estate plans for their young families and naming guardians for their minor children. Next, I received a phone call from another client who was so kind and genuine in his wishes for my comfort, health, and well-being and that of my belly baby, asking me to please take good care of myself even if it meant taking longer to get back to him with his matter. The combined effect of these acts of kindness was to completely turn my day around.

Yes, it’s still *hot* and humid and uncomfortable, but now I feel happy. I am so grateful to have such wonderful clients with whom I am able to connect on such a deeply personal level. I love my work and am so glad I took the risks and have made the sacrafices in going solo to make it possible to find this level of gratification while still being able to do good for others. As inspiration moves me brightly, I will now use this renewed energy to get myself back to work and beat it on down the line.


About Danielle G. Van Ess

Danielle G. Van Ess is a Massachusetts (born and raised), experienced estate planning and small business attorney who helps her clients protect and preserve what matters most to them. To learn more, please visit: or call: 781-740-0848

1 thought on “The Grateful Dead and Random Acts of Kindness

Comments are closed.