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In Kind

What does it mean to be kind? How are we kind to each other? Its easy to recognize unkindness or meanness. We experience it at all levels of our daily lives, from traffic incidents and snapping at someone, to treating a service worker poorly and a myriad of other small actions that we are witnesses to or guilty of committing ourselves. I lost a friend to cancer last year. I wrote in his eulogy, “Cancer is not the natural course of life. The natural course of a tree is for the leaves to fall and return to the earth to be part of the next cycle of life. Cancer rots the tree from the inside as the leaves struggle to fulfill their purpose. It cuts short the very reason it turns. The leaf should not have to struggle against the change, and the tree will fight against a blight that threatens the whole system.” His leaves were always kind, even in the height of his pain, he was kind. He was the kindest person I have ever known. He pushed me to find the greatness in myself and I promised him I would pursue that greatness. I further said in his eulogy, “How do I explain the sun to the sky? The moon to the earth? Sunset to sunrise? How to I describe sight to the blind? A symphony to the deaf? I am just a humble soul who by chance came into your life. Somethings cannot be explained, or described, or seen or heard. Somethings, like you, my love, just need to be felt.” Spreading kindness is how I’ve decided to fulfill this legacy. This had to start by changing my own inner dialogue. I have to remind myself that the person who cut me off in traffic has pain of their own, the child who disrespects me has trauma I know nothing about, and the person who pushed passed me on the way into the building has worries too. I try to respond with kindness. I let someone in front of me in traffic. I smile and high five that child and work on finding solutions for them. I hold the door for several people on my way out of the building. I started with small acts of kindness. And now its growing. I’m trying to find others ways to spread kindness. I’m trying to internalize kindness and constantly work on my inner dialogue. I’m modeling it for my students. I’m looking towards the future and trying to figure out how I can do better, help more and live up to the challenge of a person who I held so dear in my heart. I am very human. The holidays are tough on me, because I have spent the last nine seasons alone. This year, I am determined to get out of my rut and pass the spirit of kindness on to those who really need it. I am grateful for all I have, but my regret is that I don’t have my own family to share time with over the next several weeks. It’s what I can do to alleviate my loneliness. I think it is what Dave would want me to do. I’m going to fill my time with starting my own nonprofit, collecting gifts for kids in need and working on my after school democracy club. I am a duck who looks like she is peacefully gliding across the water, while under the surface my feet are furiously paddling to keep me in motion. If you see me, please be kind, its taken everything I’ve got to keep me afloat. And then do a random act of kindness for someone else. If not for me, for Dave, because, he’d do it for you.

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