September 6, 2017
“Be kind to one another.” – Ellen DeGeneres
Remember the popular bumper sticker from the 1990s?
Since then it’s been a fun spiritual practice for me. At first it was adding coins to a nearly expired parking meter for the car next to me. On family vacations, we loved paying the bridge toll fee for the car behind us. We’d watch with eager anticipation to see the reactions. In traffic, I get joy by waving an impatient driver into my lane. Lest you think I’m perfect, I can get annoyed when someone doesn’t let me merge into their lane. Where did my kindness go, so easily and so quickly? For kindness to elevate from the occasional good deed to a way of life, it takes focus, willingness and commitment. Both receiving kindness and giving kindness.
Receiving Kindness: A few years ago I popped into a pizza place to get an ice tea to go. I gave the fellow my order, who in turn called it out to his co-worker. I asked the price. The man said it was free. I laughed. “Seriously, how much?” His reply, “Seriously, it’s free.” My reply, “Are you teasing me?” His reply, “Nope, just passing along the kindness someone extended to me.” I said thank you as I walked away smiling. I almost passed up a Random Act of Kindness extended to me. It made me wonder how much good I overlook when my focus is on what’s wrong in the world.
Extending Kindness: Last week I purchased a 2-quart container of Tillamook Vanilla Ice Cream to go with the fresh blackberry pie my husband had baked. I noticed a sale sign that said, “Two for the price of one.” I hate to pass up a bargain, but it’s not safe to have two containers of ice cream in my freezer at one time. As I started to walk away, I noticed a sweet young family in front of me. A dad, obviously pregnant mom and a 3yr old boy. I asked them if they like ice cream. All three sets of eyes lit up as they nodded in unison. I explained the “two for one” deal, and said that I wanted to gift them the second container. The little boy shouted, “Yes!” The parents paused and gave me a quizzical look. “Seriously?” they asked. “Seriously,” I nodded, wearing a big smile. The only down part of this encounter is they got coffee almond fudge and I came away with boring vanilla. I suspect we all stepped away with joy from this simple act of kindness.
With all that’s swarming around us right now—hurricanes, floods, wildfires, nukes, immigration, wars, cancer, you name it—I can easily slip into worry and despair. I allow myself to visit there, but I refuse to take up residence. And so I ask the Universe: What can I do to add kindness to the world, on this day, at this moment? Opportunity is everywhere, if you remain focused and willing, and then take action.
What will your next Random Act of Kindness reveal, as giver and/or receiver?
A meditative song for the smoky air and falling ash as a result of wildfires. Bring on the rain!
“I Dreamed of Rain” by Jan Garrett & JD Martin