I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness--in the small, day-to-day ways I see it expressed by so many in the midst of our corona story. I think the impetus was an email I received from a good friend, Pam McPhee, who sent along a poem as well. Pam's email and poem are printed below.
Pam is a special spirit in the world who teaches by example. She just is kindness, compassion, resilience, and good, and I'm grateful for her presence in my life.
Maybe the email started my reflections or maybe there’s just something in the air these days. A pressing need to be nicer, to notice the good, and to pass it along. And I've been making a conscious effort to notice what is already good everywhere around me, if I choose to look.
Passing it Along
The poem, and what Pam said about her intent in sending it, gave me pause to think about some of the quietly offered kindnesses that come my way everyday, and to write about them, in hopes that I might pass along to you (as she did to me) a spirit of optimism and daily willingness to engage each other in more human ways.
As Pam wrote when she sent me the poem:
I am playing with the idea that as we age, we tire, we get scar tissue and become more vocal of our damages. I want to be more vocal of my blessings. To know that Kintsugi is real (Kintsugi - a Japanese word that describes when an object breaks and the cracks are filled with pure gold because when something breaks it has a history and it is all the more beautiful.)
"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures" - Thornton Wilder
I’ve been enjoying a shift as I accept my heart is a Kintsugi and grows stronger as I strive to be conscious of my blessings.
The poem in Pam's email is called "Small Kindnesses" by Danusha Laméris...
by DANUSHA LAMÉRIS
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 plague. "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 pick-up 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.”
Small kindnesses in my life of late:
- A surprise gift in the mail from my sister--for no reason at all.
- A masked grocery store customer with a loaded shopping cart offering me a place in front of her.
- The big wave, smile, and "Hey, how're you doing?" from my neighbor across the street.
- A little girl on her bike riding with the wind and a huge smile on her face.
- The call from a good friend to check in on how my husband and I are doing.
My guess is that many conflicts would be minimized or not exist at all if we began to notice the good people, noble aspirations, and small (and large) acts of kindness around us. At the very least, it will make for a happier day, and life.
As promised, I'm doing my part to promote optimism and to pass along some kindness as we all learn to do life a little differently. Today, you might enjoy:
- Some Good News: I just discovered this delightful YouTube series starring John Krasinsky. John offers snippets of (only) good news, gratitude, and insight. Episode 3 happens to be my favorite, but I'll start you with the link to Episode 1.
- Day After Day: I hope you find Sue Borchardt's video titled "Day After Day - A Corona Creation" as fun and fascinating as I did. Plus, I want one of those wheels!