Today I’m thinking about kindness. What can we do to practice kindness more? When was the last time you were the recipient of a random act of kindness?
The best portion of a good man’s life: his little, nameless unremembered acts of kindness and love. –William Wordsworth
When I look back and think about it, one particular example stands out for me: I was in a small college town in Switzerland, in the middle of a September night, 2005. Somehow, I’d taken the wrong train or gotten off at the wrong stop, and I found myself completely disoriented and exhausted. I had no idea what to do: I was so tired that I could barely think. The worst part was, the train station was closed for the night.
The universe sent me some kind friends that night: a Ukranian girl named Yelena and three exchange students who attended the nearby university. Once I checked in with myself to make sure I felt comfortable with them, we all went back to their apartment. Let me say it again: I was exhausted. It had been a long traveling day and all I wanted was to sleep, eat, and find out how to get to Interlaken, my intended destination. These students cooked me pasta, then led me to a couch in a quiet room where I almost instantly passed out. (No funny business, I promise!) When I woke up everyone else was asleep, but the train schedule was perched on top of my backpack, with my train highlighted. I was elated.
Who knows what would have happened if I had stayed on a bench outside the train station all night? I certainly would not have been warm enough; I might have even been too anxious to get any sleep at all. Those students were my saviors, and I only wish that I had gotten their email addresses or something so I could properly thank them.
I’d like to think that kindness comes naturally to me, just as that act of hospitality did for those nameless students in Switzerland. I make a conscious effort to smile at others, to say Good morning to those I pass on my street, to hold doors. But is there something more I could be doing? (Of course there is)
There is this: kindness is more important than how many daily views my blog gets. Practicing kindness takes precedence over what I don’t like about my hair, or reading more books, or planning my next trip. There is always more time to practice kindness and cultivate positive connections with each other.
Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution. –Kahlil Gibran