Sure, as human types, we’ve all got a massive capacity for kindness. Having been blessed to receive and witness countless kindnesses over my lifetime, I’m constantly blown away by how kind people can be. Want to be.
Sometimes where I stumble is by not knowing where to begin in the face of the gaping wide need that there is for kindness. Yesterday, I could only get through a few moving newspaper articles before being consumed by a sense of worthlessness since I couldn’t head off immediately to Brooklyn to help the hurricane victims and I couldn’t volunteer all day at the local food pantry.
How could I make my contribution to add the sparkle of kindness to this splendid and careworn world as I also needed to attend to a family emergency and prepare for Thanksgiving after going to the grocery store? Initially paralyzed by my own powerlessness, I suddenly thought, START ANYWHERE.
Oh, right. If I can be kind to anyone anywhere, even a little, it could help. Better yet, if I’m kind to many most of the time, it may matter. To someone. Because I do believe very deeply in the wise words of Plato (or whoever actually said): “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
So, after I made a donation to some hurricane relief efforts and the food pantry, I tossed on my Santa Hat to head out on my errands. It may seem small, even inconsequential at times, my wearing this Hat. But as I navigated the grocery store crowded with hurrying, tense shoppers and staff, I saw the many smiles and I heard the joy in people’s comments. I felt the warmth of human connection.
The deli staff person teased me. The lovely cashier was tickled that I’m not with an organization, that I just wear the Hat to spread whimsy. She had so many pointed questions about my Santa experiences, I wondered if I’ll soon see her wearing a Santa Hat.
When I tried to buy the stranger behind me a coffee, he was so flustered, he couldn’t remember his order. Why would I want to do that, buy him a coffee? Just because. Happy Thanksgiving. The little girl next to me tugged on her mom’s sleeve and gleefully cried “Santa!” People shouted “ho ho ho” at me and called out “love your Hat” in the parking lot.
Yes, they’re just moments, gone in a flash of a smile or a twinkle of an eye. But maybe they give someone a teeny tiny lift. The ride is a whole lot more easeful and joyful with those little boosts. And maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to contribute more.
In the meantime, Wordsworth’s sage observation resonates. “[T]hat best portion of a good man’s life, His little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love….” (thanks, Angie, http://www.amagicd.blogspot.com). Happy Thanksgiving….