I have been riffing on kindness lately.
As a parent of an almost 4 year-old daughter, I am brought daily into acute awareness of the nature of how we humans ARE with each other. How we interact. How we begin and end our connections, and how we are inside of those connections. How we give and receive.
And well, in the middle of Life happening, where there are lunches to be made, and floors to clean, and classes to prep for…like many parents, I dance with overwhelm. I dance with disorganization. I dance with the nagging feeling that I am behind, like ALL the time.
So when genuine kindness comes knocking, I notice.
And it seems to me, there is a kind of SPACE in the noticing. A pause.
I’ve been playing with this space, and the sweet nature of it.
And what I’m finding is this: The more I notice, the more kindness comes knocking.
Or perhaps I am simply becoming aware of what has always been there.
Either way, it’s so nourishing to dance with this space of noticing.
I have such reverence for those who commit themselves to the soft power of real and steadfast kindness.
Because let’s face it, while many may see kindness as a lovely quality, it’s not uncommon (especially when in the middle of a time of intense stress, any kind of loss, big transition, or parenting young children) to feel like just getting through the day without losing it… is hard enough. Depending on how we view it, “being kind” can be one more thing to add to the endless list. And if we are struggling to access kindness, we might go down the rabbit-hole of beating ourselves up for not doing kindness well enough.
And then there are those for whom kindness seems rather boring or irrelevant. Others might say that in the face of life’s challenges, highlighting or focusing on kindness…is naive.
Here’s the rub: Kindness is not some new skill we have to learn in any kind of traditional sense. We are kind by nature. It already exists, so you don’t have to create it.
Seriously. We are wired for connection, and so we are wired for kindness. It’s how we came into the world.
Isn’t that such a relief to know? There’s nothing to strive for. Kindness simply LIVES in you.
Committing oneself in this way then, is not an avoidance of the hard stuff, nor is it a challenging task. It is simply…a choice ~ with eyes wide open ~ in the midst of the wild, unpredictability of life. In the midst of the pain within us and around us.
And choices of this kind– choices that we must ultimately take ourselves, of our own volition, take a particular kind of courage.
And so, may this blog post be an ode to the kindness that you have bestowed, and that has been bestowed upon you.
All those seemingly simple kindnesses you do every day: taking care of your body’s needs, parenting your children or stewarding your animals with respect, attending to the needs of your home, dancing with the needs of whatever beings you may co-habitate with, making eye contact with the people you buy your food from. Those things, that may feel like habit, but are inherently nourishing. Inherently kind. I want to say to you now…I notice them.
I notice your kindness.
And I thank you for it
Like, a few weeks ago when we were on the ferry, the person behind me in line paid for my tea and sushi. Simple in a way, but I really noticed it. And it impacted my entire day, this generous act.
Or, last month, my sister revealed to us that she had been collecting cans and bottles with my step-dad, and over the course of many many months, bit by bit, she collected enough money to purchase this sweet play house for our daughter (and her niece).
Let me reiterate – day after day, they collected cans and bottles so she could buy this.
Like…really take that in for a moment.
Now, every time I look at that thing of beauty in our backyard, I am struck by the depth of her steadfast commitment to choosing kindness.
Our friends and neighbours bestow ongoing kindnesses: the endless pre-loved clothes and playful items for our daughter, the lending of tools, passing on plants, household appliances (yep, an actual working deep-freeze), or those who compassionately look after our little urban farm-menagerie when we go away.
Then there are those key people in our daughter’s life who have made it a priority to spend time with her. These folks look after her because they can, because their hearts are big, and because they are stewards of love and believe in community. Some do it when they are able to make time, others do it regularly. And they do it for free.
In the modern world, I can’t tell you what this means to me, to us, to our hearts.
Now that I think of it, there are so many stop me in my tracks kindnesses that come our way, I could go on for quite some time.
So I will say this: without a doubt, kindness begets kindness. My heart feels full to overflowing these days. Why? Well, one friend recently summed it up: Seeing kindness, opening to kindness, receiving it, and offering it…reminds us that the universe IS a friendly place.
And buoyed by that truth, well, my heart feels nourished and nourishing, all at once.
So, dear reader… Thank you. Thank you for your heart. For the kindnesses others see and experience, but also for the ones we don’t. Regardless of whether or not we ever meet, or ever see the results of you doing your unique flavor of kindness…I want you to know that it has an impact.
I see you. And, what I see ROCKS.
Sarah Nakatsuka is a Counsellor, Celebrant, Group Facilitator & Artist, who provides services for clients in the Greater Victoria area, as well as online. Check out the website here.