We need more simple acts of random kindness.
Sometimes I turn off the news when I simply cannot spend another morning with fears of looming danger in North Korea, terrorism, and unrest around the world. It’s still there, but I need a break now and then. I confess Anderson Cooper has dreamy eyes and Mark Cuomo has enviable hair, but the hourly breaking news of the president’s tweeting madness or the heartbreaking hurricane devastation in Puerto Rico is just too much for me sometimes. What about the citizens of Puerto Rico who are the news and can’t get away from it no matter how hard they try?
So I am turning off CNN for a while, unfollowing the POTUS on Twitter, all in an attempt to change the mood and improve my daily Zen, informally. I don’t know how to do Zen meditation formally.
Instead of hearing about the Russia scandal or the latest shooting, I am waking up early to walk around the block, listening to the birds playing in the neighbor’s birdbath or sitting on the steps of the old courthouse museum marveling at the beauty surrounding me. When watering my Boston ferns, I put the nozzle of my garden hose on sprinkle rather than shower to slow it all down a bit. Yesterday I even took my shoes and socks off to splash through the puddles of water near my potted Hydrangeas on the veranda. It brought back memories of being a kid—and probably scared the neighbors if they were watching.
I am amazed at how the smallest things bring the greatest joy. While having dinner out last weekend in a popular restaurant with everyone busy talking to the people at their own tables or glued to their phones, I overheard the two women beside us celebrating a birthday before heading out to a movie. I leaned over and said, “Happy Birthday. What movie are you two going to see?” They broke from their conversation, jaws dropped, and for a few seconds I didn’t know how this simple act would be received. First, they were stunned and speechless, and finally delighted as we all exchanged movie tips.
How is it that we coexist in the world with so many things in common, but are surprised when strangers smile back, hold a door open, or actually care how our day is going? We need more human interaction which doesn’t focus on arguing about politics, reaffirming fears, or inauthentic greetings as we pass each other on the street. How many times has someone not even slowed down while quickly asking, “How are you today?” We can tell when someone really means it.
Mark Twain said it best: “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” I wish to sit longer with my dogs, letting them give me wet sloppy kisses until their hearts are content, to take the long drive home with the windows down waving at strangers, and to begin a ritual of throwing positive energy around like confetti. That may be a bit too ambitious, but I can try.
By the way, the birthday ladies and I became fast friends, if only for a moment. I hope their horror movie was not too scary, probably no scarier than the news these days.
Contact David at [email protected]