On kindness, self and others
20th January 2021
It’s been a strange 12 months, retreating inwards somewhat into lockdown. Fears of contagion and self-preservation naturally rise to the surface. I walk the dog daily, and now naturally avoid people as much as I can by default.
Shortly into my dog walk, I was approached by an old woman yesterday looking agitated. I was wearing headphones and was in my own little world, and my first thought was naturally of self - keep away - I didn’t want to either catch or pass anything on to her.
Turns out her 90-year-old husband had fallen over and couldn’t get up, and they had no one they could call, with elderly neighbours. Were scared of calling an ambulance out. The poor man had been down on the floor for 3 hours, too heavy to lift, and unable to get up.
I chastised myself internally, and rushed home to get mask/gloves, and went and helped him out, staying as safe as I could for all involved. Luckily he was ok - just a bit shook and bruised, nothing broken and not in pain, and we manage to get him up and into his favourite chair. I left them my number and encouraged them to call if they had further problems. I’ll likely go back next week and check up on them at a safe distance.
I love this timely quote from Seth Godin on his blog:
There is the kindness of ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ And the kindness of “I was wrong, I’m sorry.” The small kindnesses that smooth our interactions and help other people feel as though you’re aware of them. These don’t cost us much, in fact, in most settings, engaging with kindness is an essential part of connection, engagement and forward motion.
And then there is the kindness of dignity. Of giving someone the benefit of the doubt. The kindness of seeing someone for the person that they are and can become, and the realization that everyone, including me and you, has a noise in our heads, a story to be told, fear to be danced with and dreams to be realized.
And there’s another: The kindness of not seeking to maximize short-term personal gain. The kindness of building something for the community, of doing work that matters, of finding a resilient, anti-selfish path forward.
Kindness isn’t always easy or obvious, because the urgent race to the bottom, to easily measured metrics and to scarcity, can distract us. But bending the arc toward justice, toward dignity and toward connection is our best way forward.
Seth Godin - Seth’s Blog
I’ve been thinking about it ever since, the people out there on their own, feeling isolated, worried about situations like this, and it scares me. We are often so wrapped up in our own worlds, with our own worries, that we retreat inwards somewhat, and lose that sense of human connection and support.
Take a moment and think who you know who might be feeling lonely or isolated, whether family, friends or neighbours and check up on them, connect with them even for a brief moment. What might be 5 minutes of your day for a quick chat might make someone else’s week.