Recently it has been thrust upon me…something I wouldn’t have expected after every hardship I’ve endured. Kindness. I spent most of my life living by the motto “if you’re positive, you can only be disappointed, but if you’re negative, you can be pleasantly surprised.” I truly believed that I hated people in general. After my moms death, I basically became a hermit. I stayed home inside doing nothing productive. I can’t even tell you what I did on those days because they were literally full of nothingness.
When I finally did start to venture out, I started to notice people more. In my life, I’d focused on myself and what I was doing, but if you look around, there are so many opportunities to improve someone’s life. And it can be something as simple as stopping to talk to someone who is usually ignored.
On a trip to Walmart to purchase arts and crafts items for my 7-year old daughter who is the epitome of kindness, I came upon the usual greeter. He was an elderly gentleman and he just visibly seemed like a kind man. While checking my receipt, he began to talk about all of the items I’d purchased. He told me his wife had been an artist in her younger years and eventually explained that she was now too sick with cancer that she is unable to do the things she once loved. This resonated with me and I really wanted to keep speaking with this man because he obviously needed someone to talk to. So there I stood talking to this man I’d never met and would probablynever meet again.
Truthfully, I realized that I wanted to hear everything this man had to say to me. I sort of pushed the conversation towards the more positive parts and asked him to elaborate on how wonderful and talented his wife is. While also relating his words to my words of describing the selfless giving nature of my mother. I started to realize that while my moms body may no longer be here, I could spread not only the knowledge I’ve gained from her, but also spread the word of who she was.
This man told me that he and his wife were known for making an elaborate Christmas display every year that I have seen many times. And now here I was speaking with the man, dressed in a blue vest at the entrance/exit of Walmart, who brought joy and wonder to the children of my town with those Christmas lights.
It is with that conversation that I began to learn that you can touch people’s lives without knowing and it can truly be life-changing. I explained to this man that what he did was wonderful. I’m sure he knew that people enjoyed what he did but no one had ever really stopped to say to him “thank you for the wonderful gift you provide to children every year.” And you could tell with his demeanor that he was taken aback by someone outwardly expressing gratitude for something he’d always done just because he loved to do it for others.
After I left Walmart that day, it became, not so much a mission, but my creed to outwardly show kindness to everyone but especially people who appeared to have not gotten that kind of kindness in a while. In doing so, I don’t seek people out to help, I merely observe everyone while I’m out and about. If I see someone I can help, I do so. If someone compliments me on a tattoo or relates to me because of one of them, I take the time to converse with them (assuming I am not hindering them from performing their job).
You’d be surprised what it would do to the person that checks you out at the grocery store if you would just talk to them like they are an actual person. Have a conversation, however small. They will remember you. They will, if only briefly, be cheered up and you will have broken the monotony of ringing people who show no emotion either way.
Kindness resonates. More so than you can ever imagine. There are times in my life where someone has shown me a particular kindness that I’ve remembered and carried with me decades later. If you’re reading this, I ask that you also watch the video I will be posting. It is a musical representation of what I am trying to say and has also become my anthem in these difficult days.
My last example is from the last time I spent in the hospital. When I originally arrived, I had been in a room by myself. But after a day, a woman in tears was brought in to be my roommate. I looked to her and said “I know that this seems really scary and hard, but if you’re here it means you want to get better and it’s the best place for you right now.” She smiled at me and wiped her eyes. She said thank you but she could have said nothing because the smile is what I wanted from her. Later when it was time for bed, I felt compelled to tell her that I thought she was beautiful, inside and out. With that her tears turned from ones of sadness to tears of gratitude. Her face fell and I said “No don’t cry! I just wanted you to know!” As tears filled my own eyes, I had unknowingly solidified a friendship, one that I’d been looking for my entire life.
In all of my past friendships, I’d felt that the balance between giving and taking was imbalanced. I felt like I was constantly helping my friends either physically or by just being there when they needed to rant through text about what they were going through. I went through medical traumas with them that I don’t even think I could have handled if they had happened to me. In all of those instances, I had never once thought that by being there for them, they owed me in the case that something similar happen to me in the future. I did so out of love and empathy for a person I considered to be “family” so to speak. I cried when a friend facetimed me after a particularly bad injury and immediately jokingly chastised him for not calling me sooner. His reason: he knew if he had called sooner, I would have driven over three hours to be there just to sit with him in the hospital.
Even though the kindness and love I’d shown had not actually been reciprocated, I’d convinced myself that their continued friendship was my reward for such things. All I wanted was their happiness and I would do anything in my power to help them attain that. Unfortunately, not everyone feels that kindness is something that should be paid forward.
Now this person I had met in the hospital took what I had said to her to heart. I had merely said something that I felt needed to be said, but she got from it something I hadn’t intended: hope. I had given her hope that life isn’t all bad and that there are people that exist that are worth fighting for.
Now, months later she has become my guardian angel. She has done so much for me that I can’t express my gratitude. She has brought so much positivity and light to my life. I truly believe that my mother sent her to me to kick my ass and get me back where I need to be. She said to me once that she felt like I was a good investment. It made me hopeful. It made me realize that despite all my failings and flaws, once I got out of my rut, I would be the friend SHE had been looking for. We’re stuck with each other now. Psych sisters. The suicide squad.
In conclusion, be kind. Not just to one person occasionally, be kind to every person you meet. You’ll never know the joy and hope you’ll bring by simply acknowledging them as a human being worth talking to.