We’ve all had those days. Those horrible, why-can’t-I-eat-chocolate-and-love-my-dogs-for-a-living-days. I’ve sometimes had days so catastrophic that I had to acknowledge my headaches by naming them. And believe you me, they are not your typical average Joe sort of headaches, they’re more along the lines of a headache named Barbra who is actually an overweight, cross dressing man who loves to indulge in activities that serve to challenge gender norms. Yes, even my headaches have a desire to be extra. Barbra, you as can well imagine, is well known for her perseverance and resistance to convention. It was one of those days where Barbra had decided to take up residence in the crease beneath my brow that I found myself wishing unfortunate ends for a large number of people that I was presented with something that made me smile. It was a simple something over a catch up about a project no doubt, and it was presented to me with no expectations. In between my deep grumpiness and misery there was a thin, long pack of Mentos. And the kindness within the gesture, the kindness of the bearer of the Mentos, was enough for me to stop feeling sorry for myself and to remember that the world is bigger than me and Barbara. It was enough simply because for that moment, in the handover of Mentos, I was given permission to sulk. It was a gesture that was kind and more so, it was a gesture that said maybe the world has bigger problems, but right now you’re more important than those. And yes, it was just a pack of Mentos, it was a split-second decision made as someone waited for their coffee, but more than any of that, it was kind.
I want to write that we could all do with a bit more kindness in our lives and in writing those words I wonder why I perceive it’s absence. It’s a no brainer that we would all like to be treated with kindness, that we would all want the proverbial pack of Mentos on a bad day, but then why does it seem so difficult for us? Now, I know it’s cool to be mean. Beyond that, it’s also easy to be mean, it distances you from a lesser human so as to stroke your ego just so. I’d daresay it’s easier to be mean than it is to be kind. Before you can spellcheck the word hypocrite, know that I am my fair share of mean, I’ve been mean to get a laugh, I’ve been mean because it seemed to come naturally and I’ve been mean because I was insensitive and self-absorbed. I doubt that perfect absolutes of “kind” and “mean” exist, if you had to consider those two terms diametrically opposed, each of us have elements of both, some more pronounced than others. Husband may tell you a different story, but even I am known to be kind at times, so it is possible that there is a sort of kindness-meanness spectrum that our actions generally fall within. I wonder how often the dial would point to kindness when I look back at my actions and I’m sure it wouldn’t be as often as I’d like it be.
It is seductive to think that our actions pertaining to these matters can adequately be translated to our more self-serving desires. A level of meanness protects our soft underbellies from would be adversaries and kindness endears us to fellow humans, making us more likable. No one can deny that we live in a world that places an illogical but substantial emphasis on outward appearances. No sooner is a good, kind deed done than it is posted on Facebook or Instagram and we all know that the harsh truth is that some people, if given a choice to do something kind that will get no social media attention or to do nothing, will do nothing. Somehow, we’ve managed to give preference to being seen as kind or good above actually being kind or good. In some respects, I feel like we’ve lost the value associated with being kind. We short change being kind because we’re busy, we’re ambitious, because kindness is for the soft and meek and the world belongs to the brave. We’ve forgotten how to share, be it the spotlight or our resources or a few well chosen words, because we think that sharing makes us vulnerable. We don’t support our friends, gosh we don’t even like their Facebook posts because if we give support or those coveted likes, we will deplete our own supply of magical power and perhaps turn into pumpkins at midnight. The crushing power of the like on social media is a substantial enough topic to deserve it’s own blog and I shall not even attempt to do it justice here.
So, what have we got? A bunch of heartless, self-absorbed, flesh casings running around our planet claiming to be human? Probably. But we also all know people who are more kind than they should be, we know people who care not to serve their own agenda but because they are driven by some internal compass that has no need for validation on social media. We are all grateful for the simple gestures that have helped us through difficult times, we are all grateful for people who have been kind to us in our times of need without so much as a thought about it. It is these kind, wonderful deeds that I think we should serve to mimic, it may not get us Kardashian like fame, it may never be acknowledged but it is, I suppose, the right thing to do. What if today we did what my mother tried to teach me as a child, we treated each other the way we would like to be treated? I’ve sometimes looked back at my particularly busy days feeling that I accomplished nothing, that all I got after a long day was an even longer to do list. I wonder how differently I would have felt if I had set slightly different goals, if I had challenged myself to be kind and I know, somehow, that that would have been enough. Because an act of kindness, be small enough to fit into a roll of Mentos, or large enough to encompass your grief, is an act that will always mean something to the receiver. I know that it has for me, and I am beyond grateful to a multitude of kindnesses and more so to the people who have been generous enough to bestow it. So maybe it’s time I start my days by my asking myself what if today, all you did was be kind?