"Pay It Forward"

with Kevin Spacey

Viewed November 10, 2001

Well, the room was pretty evenly divided about whether they liked or hated the ending of "Pay It Forward," but everyone was in agreement that the rest of the movie felt good and was uplifting, encouraging us to take the risk of giving without needing to get repaid for our acts of kindness.

We paid particular attention to Questions 9, 4 and 1. On Question 9, someone said that he wasn't usually very good at selling a new idea, but he did think he was pretty good at being patient and persistent, and sometimes just plugging away at a goal for long enough allowed him to accomplish it. Several others chimed in and said that it was sometimes necessary to take the long view-the very, very long view-in order to see the positive results of the seeds we've planted (Question #4), because sometimes those seeds won't sprout for several decades or even several lifetimes.

However, someone else said that taking the long view was fine, except that sometimes he got discouraged when he tried as hard as he could to make something good happen and things didn't work out. It made it hard to keep going.

Someone said she used to get very frustrated when she tried to convince her friends to get interested in the Center. Instead, she let go of her attachment to her expectations and is now just planting seeds, allowing them to grow if and when they do.

That led us to talk about difficult close relationships, like with parents or spouses, where we've tried to improve the relationship. We decided it works best when we are really clear about who we are and what we need, and we let them know that without insisting on their reacting in any specific way. The word "surrender" was mentioned, as well as "respect" and "letting go."

Here are the questions:


  1. When bad things happen, how can I handle it so I can move forward?
  2. How do I resist positive change? How can I influence others to change positively?
  3. What have I forgiven? What am I unwilling to forgive? Why?
  4. How can I trust that what I am doing will have a positive effect?
  5. What are my motivations behind helping others?
  6. What gives me the courage to take risks?
  7. What is it about me that makes me willing to be comfortable with my discomfort?
  8. Have I ever had a new idea, and what have I done with it?
  9. How have I motivated others to enlist in my cause?