random acts of kindness
A poem by Danusha Laméris, 2019 (bold highlights made by this blogger):
I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs to let you by.
Or how strangers still say “bless you” when someone sneezes, a leftover from the Bubonic plaque. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes when you spill lemons from your grocery bag, someone else will help you pick them up.
Mostly we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot, and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile at them and for them to smile back.
For the waitress to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder, and for the driver in the red pickup truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other now. So far from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here, have my seat,” “Go ahead – you first,” “I like your hat.”
Are you overwhelmed to the point that you say to yourself, What could I possibly do to make a difference?
The answer is:
You can make a difference because kindness trumps all.
I recently wrote Ellen Degeneres to thank her for her ongoing efforts to spread kindness. Sure, at the end of each of her daily shows she says, Be kind to one another, but she puts force behind those words in what she does for others. At the conclusion of my letter to her, I said the following:
We’re not charged with changing the entire world, but we can have an impact on the miniscule portion of the world to which we have access. You’re doing it, and I will continue to do what I can from my corner of the world. If everyone makes a fraction of a difference right from where they are, those fractions will add up to great things.
I’m glad I’m on the same kindness train as you, Ellen, and I’ll keep chugging along until I can’t chug any longer.
I sincerely believe that random acts or words of kindness can make a difference in the world in which we live. There are so many negative and hurtful words being thrust into our universe, can’t we just please try to balance out that hurt with words of encouragement, recognition, and nourishment?
Yes, nourishment. In all our daily interactions – be they via social media or in person – we can nurture the hurt that exists all around us. Our words, our smile, our actions may just change the life of someone forever. Haven’t you been on the receiving end of that type of transformative nourishment? Didn’t it feel good? Didn’t it fill the emptiness within you that hungered and thirsted for confirmation that you matter, that you aren’t a failure, that you have potential?
Let’s revisit how that felt and commit to quenching the thirst of each person with whom we come in contact.
I’m launching a new series this year called Kindness Fridays. You’ll still be privy to my Lighten up Mondays series (humor to start your week) but with Kindness Fridays, I’ll report on at least one episode of kindness that was recently extended to me. My first kindness encounter actually occurred in December of last year and was the inspiration for this new blog segment.
The beginning of December, I road the bus into downtown Seattle to have lunch with my sister-in-law. I allowed for plenty of time to do some Holiday shopping prior to meeting up with her.
One particular shopping structure called Pacific Place has an entrance through a Barnes & Noble bookstore. Not being super familiar with Pacific Place but pretty sure I could access it through B&N, I chose that entrance. Upon entering, a security guard greeted me. I asked, “Can I enter the rest of the mall through this store?” He assured me I could and provided instructions for me to do so.
There were escalators to ride up and down and quite frankly I got confused and arriving at the top of an escalator, I found myself right back where I started. The security guard – whose job it was to stand at the street entrance to the store – noticed me, waved, and walked over to me.
“I’m sure you gave me the correct instructions but somehow or another I translated them incorrectly.”
“No problem, let’s go down this escalator and I’ll show you.”
“Really, you’ll escort me to the mall entrance?”
We talked on the way down and upon arriving at the bottom of the escalator, he walked me to where I could access the Mall.
“Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. That was very thoughtful of you.”
He lightly touched my arm and said, “That’s why I’m here, I was happy to do so. Happy Holidays and enjoy your day.”
Wow. Such a brief yet powerful interaction but it was an act of kindness, the positive effects of which still remain with me today.
I published this post in June of 2015. I am re-blogging it today as part of my weekly effort to propose – and promote – kindness. Just as we have the ability to recognize happiness in our own daily lives, we can also nurture a better quality of life in others, one small act of kindness at a time.
Every day, and every encounter during each day, we have the opportunity to do good, or to do bad; to improve upon someone’s day, or ruin it for them. Right now, or at the end of this day, thi…
Three extraordinary – yet small – things happened at that early hour when I was feeling less than able to even stand while I waited for the pharmacy gate to open.
- A store clerk that was doing some pricing procedures in the main part of the store in front of the pharmacy greeted me, asked how I was doing, and when I responded, “Not so great, actually” offered to help me to the pharmacy bench.
- Then the pharmacist opened the pharmacy early, 8:55 am, and told me my prescription would be ready in 10 minutes. I then left the pharmacy to go to the women’s room and as I was walking back, the third kindness occurred.
- The store clerk who had greeted me upon my arrival in the pharmacy area took the time to find me at a different area of the store to let me know my prescription was ready.
Big deal, such small courtesies are hardly worth writing a blog piece about, right?
Wrong, they lightened my burden and jump-started my day.
Don’t ever feel your efforts won’t make a difference.
They do, and they have.
A recent article in Parade Magazine spotlighted the efforts of older adults mentoring children on how to be good citizens. Specifically, Veterans and Congressional Medal of Honor recipients volunteer as mentors in schools across the nation.
The article emphasizes the point that parents and other adult family members should be the main source of such teaching – teachers have enough work to do just getting our children educated – but with a little bit of reinforcement at school, the lesson becomes that much more vital to the young learners. Read the rest of this entry »