Why is it that when someone has done you a favour, it feels even better than the original gesture from them if you are able to return the good turn? I guess it’s like the old 2 + 2 = 5; the two elements (their favour and your return favour) seem greater than the sum of their parts.
I’ve really felt a sense of elation about being able to return a favour today. I hold the post of associate editor on a history journal – a position that I enjoy, but sounds an awful lot more grand than it actually is. I’ve held the post for just over four years, and in that time, my colleagues have been amazingly kind and generous to me, stepping in and covering my role when – on two occasions – I’ve been ill and had to step back for a couple of months. On both these occasions, I’ve felt that they’ve done more than what is strictly necessary to accommodate me and I’ve never been made to feel guilty about handing responsibilities onto someone else.
Right now, I’ve got the chance to return the favour. For one reason and another, extra input from me – beyond what I would normally be doing for them – is needed to help others out and generally assist the running of the publication. And I am happy to give that extra. I guess it’s fortunate that this has fallen at a moment when I have extra free time while I await the examination of my PhD, but such things are so often serendiptious in that way. Each time I field any inquiry that wouldn’t normally be coming my way, each time I send an email with info from my own records, each time I help with moving towards a resolution on a particular obstacle, I feel a sense of warmth. There is no reward for this, nor do I seek particular recognition from them of my extra efforts. It simply feels good to think that not only am I helping my colleagues, but I am also going someway to return the favour that they have given me. At some point, we all need a favour. And at some point, it is our responsibility to return them.