I think being KIND is the hardest life lesson I have learned. Why? Because I have a rather sharp edged wit, and a nasty temper I keep hidden. I had to learn kindness the old fashioned way. Obviously, the title to this blog post comes from a Biblical source, Ephesians 4:32. I chuckled after I realized from where the phrase comes from because it was a constant statement my minister grandfather and grandmother would repeat to me, and advise me to remember. “Don’t let the world get you, be ye kind, one to another…” they would tell me. If you have read Ephesians, where the verse comes from it was in part, the reason my novel, ‘Fishing for Light’, was titled, well, ‘Fishing for Light’. But I digress…
Kindness is not a mushy, push-over method; it is taking quiet action. And it does not have to be a religious or faith-based life lesson. I do not ascribe to any organized religion. My grandfather would consider me a ‘hard nut to crack’. I’ll write about that another day. Kindness, it is a simple view of the world from the inside to out. A novel project that I am slowly developing is titled, ‘Fifth & Hope’. The story is about a semi-retired middle-aged man who discovered his grandfather’s diaries, and with his wife’s encouragement they set out on a journey to discover who his grandfather really was. I know exactly how the story ends; I use that writing technique from the brilliant author, John Irving. It is a simple mental trick for anybody, if you know where you are going it makes life a lot easier. But I was having a difficult time getting started; the first sentence to any story has to almost instantly hook the reader, or the reader stops reading. And for a writer that is the definition of failure. Let me share with you how ‘Fifth & Hope’ starts – for now, it could all change after an editor gets the manuscript in their hot hands and then they delight in the literary draw and quarter method to torture my beloved words – admittedly, they are usually correct. Sorry, I digressed again, but here goes-
Excerpt from ‘Fifth & Hope’ – page 1:
“For all my fifty years I had felt the instinct that I was a tolerated hot mess. It was like the sensation you walked into a crowded party that you were accidentally invited to attend, but then realized you’re not really welcome. “What’s he doing here?” Thankfully, I had learned to manage my messes because I have always remembered the Bible verse my grandparent’s had endlessly repeated to me growing up, “Bobby, be ye kind, one to another.” Anytime I had the instinct to strike out at someone, felt cheated, ostracized, I’d whisper the words in my mind, and it kept me from making a bigger mess of my life.” End.
After I wrote the above, the concept of kindness occurred to me for a recent blog post for Memorial Day. I shared my favorite book, “The Giving Tree”, by Shel Silverstein. I used the story to say thank you to military veterans and the like for their service and sacrifice. Think about it, the courage to step forward to defend your country, and defend those that cannot defend themselves is a classic form of kindness. I think kindness is listening to someone tell you their aspirations and dreams, and not responding with verbal roadblocks. I think kindness is admitting you were wrong. I think kindness is letting someone stuck in dense commuter traffic drive in front of your car. I think kindness is paying for someone’s groceries that just ran out of money from their SNAP card, and not making it a big deal. I think kindness is telling someone they have food spackled to their teeth. I think kindness is writing a recommendation letter when unsolicited. I think kindness is giving blood. I think kindness is a foot rub. I think kindness is a quiet hug. I think kindness is silently being present for a friend after a tragic loss. I think kindness is giving and not expecting anything in return, not even a ‘thank you’.
I can go on and on with examples, but I have one last thought. I am thankful my grandparents always told me, ‘be ye kind, one to another…’