Kindness is such a gentle yet powerful word. I love the way it sounds, the way it elegantly rolls off the tongue. Kindness is powerful enough to hold its own space and place, and the act of being kind creates an overall sense of wellbeing. You feel better, look better, and are physically healthier when engaging in an act of kindness. Life and technology has us moving so fast that I fear the time it takes to remind ourselves to be kind can be lost and buried in the hectic world that we create. But not fast enough to pass up the opportunity to be kind to another. Be it a person, or an animal, the act itself will empower and energize you.
My mother is one of the kindest people that I know. She is an angel and I often say to myself, ‘If I could only be as kind or just a little bit as kind as my mother.’ She is the one that will laugh and have conversations with everyone that she meets. She will want to adopt the man washing her car or bagging her groceries, the child giggling in the park, even the dog or cat that needs a home. That’s why we had eight dachshunds, two cats, two goats, cows, horses, and pigs as pets growing up. She took Radical kindness to a whole new level!
Today at the young age of 75, she is having a terrible time with her memory, which creates fear and anxiety for her and of course, for us. She may forget names, faces, what she ate today or a conversation that she had 10 minutes earlier, BUT she never forgets to be kind.
The other day, I was at the JFK airport heading out on one of my many business trips. Standing in the security line, I began preparing my bags for the X-Ray machine and disrobed my layers to ready myself for the never-ending scrutiny of my belongings. I noticed there was a bag that was delivered to the conveyer belt with a little blue ribbon tied to it to make it easier to recognize. It reminded me of what my mom would do.
Curious as to who the owner of this lonely bag was, I looked around and saw an older lady, a bit hunched over like Mom, rifling through her wallet and papers to present her ID and tickets to the security officer. As the line grew behind her, I thought I might help her through the new travel precautions. After all, I would hope that someone would do the same for my mom.
I went over to her and suggested that we do this together. She explained that she was 80 years old, and going down to Florida to see her son. She told me that she was too old to do this, and that she was unsure as to what she was supposed to do to get through security. I told her, ‘You are not old, you’re wise and compared to all of the things that you have done in your 80 years, this is going to be a piece of cake!’ So we removed her shoes and put all of her things through the X-Rays. As luck would have it, they pulled her bag and searched it. After helping her put everything back into its place, I asked her where her gate was. Her gate was in the opposite direction of mine, but I wanted to make sure she got there safely. My flight was leaving in 25 minutes, but I was used to being the last on the plane.
As we proceeded toward her gate, she informed me that her flight didn’t leave for 5 hours, but she wanted to make sure she was there in time, which tickled me. Then she looked up at me and asked if I worked for the airlines. Too funny! ‘No,’ I thought. ‘Maybe just for you today.’ She said, ‘Well you are like an angel and you’re so pretty. You could be on TV or something.’
Finally, I was earning my wings and taking a couple of small steps to be kind like my mom. For me, seeing her appreciation, knowing that she was safely where she needed to be and not confused, was such a rewarding feeling. As I ran to catch my flight, I could barely hold back my tears. I was unbelievably touched by the power of taking a moment to be there for another person and do the simplest of things. I carried her smiling eyes around with me in my thoughts and it lifted my spirits, giving me a sense of peace.
I had all of the reasons in the world not to help her, the lines, the hassles, the flight; she wasn’t my mom, or my problem. I was busy, had phone calls to make and so many seemingly important things to do. As it turned out, those moments walking through the airport with her ended up being the most important thing I did that day, and was easily the most rewarding.
Say the Radical yes to kindness because you can!
WRITTEN BY LIZ.