Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Kindness That Is Not Random

            I’ve been thinking about kindness since the start of the New Year. In fact, I’ve made kindness one of my daily goals in 2015. It’s going well so far—better than my diet, at any rate.
            It is not random acts of kindness that I’m thinking about; actually, it’s kindness toward people we know who need and deserve kindness. I’m trying to be a little kinder to the people who are closest to me—to my mom and my partner and my friends.
            This morning I nominated my son’s teacher for a prize. This man is more than just a patient person who works hard to help my special guy focus and succeed. He even helped him to make a friend—something my son needed more than anything—and this friend and his family have become an important part of our whole family’s life.
We all want someone to hang out with, to laugh with, and my son had been missing out on that before this new friend came along. Mr. W, his teacher, hooked the two kids up, even though my son’s friend is one grade-level higher than mine. That required several traits—the desire and ability to really understand children, the planning and energy to bring them together, the compassion to know that doing so would be important. This type of educator is far more than award-worthy, and filling out a brief nomination form was an easy way to demonstrate how much he means to us.
Random acts of kindness are a beautiful thing. Arriving at the drive-thru window and finding that the person in front of you has paid for your meal gives a moment of confusion followed by a quick burst of joy—someone has done something nice just for you. You could make someone else’s day and keep the ball rolling. The world could be a gentler, sweeter place.
But I have a friend who is scared about her job, and another who feels overwhelmed by expenses. Someone I love is alone, and someone else I love is in constant pain. There is nothing particularly random about the suffering that is happening and observable in my daily life. And let’s face it—I could have afforded my own drive-thru lunch. It was a nice enough gesture that didn’t change a whole lot.
My sister has a bum knee and is bored to death in her apartment. The mystery novels I mailed to her in a focused act of kindness will make a difference, or at least I hope they will.
A good friend of mine took a risk and felt vulnerable. Another friend gathered her supporters and we all went out for drinks, and I got to see the first friend relax and even laugh. This kindness—which did not originate with me, although I was privileged to participate—makes a difference, too.

I’m in favor of all kinds of kindness. I resolve, though, to be kind nearby—to focus my goodwill. There is nothing random about the way care and compassion can radiate out from a center in great waves of goodness, touching people we may not even yet know.