— Neal Lemery
“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day, someone will do the same for you.” — Princess Diana
The day often offers so many opportunities to be kind, with only a few moments, a few kind words, a charitable act. The occasion offers such potential to ease someone’s burdens, to be a messenger of joy and compassion, to be simply human with each other.
I find myself getting caught up in my to do list, my errands. I become caught up into the American behaviors of rushing through the day, being abrupt, and not engaging with others on a human level. Yes, I can check off my list, and feel a sense of accomplishment, but I often leave my humanity and the humanity of others often neglected, pushed aside by feeling obsessed with getting my work done.
The other day, I was part of a simple business transaction, paying a craftsman for his labor. He was meticulous, professional, and took pride in his work, which I realized was heartfelt and respectable. I took time to thank him, and handed him a check, with a generous tip. My wife asked him about his young son, asking to see a photo. For the next few minutes, we all oohed and awed over the cuteness of the photos and a sweet video that expressed his contagious laugh, the two-year old being exuberant about life and the simple joys in life that a two-year old can so easily spontaneously express. The interaction became a celebration of life and parenthood, and the joys that a small child can bring to the world.
I was thankful that my wife and the craftsman were patient with me, and took the time to pause and celebrate the joys of parenthood. I was again reminded that life is sweet and simply joys need to be shared and enjoyed.
The barista at the coffee shop drive-through always shares her kindness and cheer with me. Her demeanor and courtesy may be a part of her job description, but her good works she shares with her customers are also part of her character, part of her work to enhance the community, and brighten the lives of her customers. Each of us can do that work as we live our lives and interact with others.
The simple acts of kindness, seemingly insignificant at the time, are often the most cherished moments that others experience. The value of what we do in a spur of the moment, without much thought to taking a moment to be kind, can be enormous and widely influential.
Kindness is a two-way street. We often don’t realize that we need to experience a little kindness from others, as well as being the recipient. Our burdens can be heavier than we realize, that we are sometimes lonelier or more needy than we know. While it is “more blessed to give than receive”, and that mindset makes for a better community, we also need to replenish our own “well” of goodness, charity, and kindness. And, in receiving the kindnesses of others, we allow them to find a place to share their love. Allowing others to give to us is also a gift of love. In the sharing lies the fruit of kindnesses.