Waiting to board an aircraft. Sitting at the gate and priority boarding has been called. First class, business class and ‘members’.
Much of our human world prioritises wealth. Money buys you privilege.
The chosen ones look at us as we sit waiting to be called. We, the less fortunate, gaze on as the priority few pass through.
We judge them. They judge us. The world over.
Whereas goodness, kindness, compassion. These things curry no favour, yet are worth more perhaps?
We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity; more than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.
(speech from the Jewish barber in The Great Dictator)
House clearing today.
Seven people busying themselves boxing, bagging, sorting.
A new language emerged. People passing each other, muttering ‘keep, charity, dump?’. People holding items, asking for advice, ‘keep, charity, dump?’ People checking whether the black bag in the corner of the room, or at their feet, was ‘keep, charity, dump?’ Three piles in rooms. Three piles in the garage. Three piles by cars. Keep, charity, dump.
There are things in our lives which fit these criteria too. Parts of ourselves we should most definitely keep. Parts we could give to others, to bring something into their lives. Parts we could dispose of, no longer relevant or useful to us.
Keep, charity, dump.
Apparently someone is selling jars of fresh air to the Chinese.
The world has become so commercial we are now selling jars of air. Mind you, that’s a small step from selling bottles of water I guess.
How much for a smile? What price a hug? Ten pounds for 30 minutes of daylight? Should it cost more to breathe in than to breathe out? Twenty pence a wink? Shade costs a pound a minute, unless you trade it for a cool breeze.
Let’s just hope love and human kindness remain no cost options.
As you move through the world you will have touched people. Some you will know. Family. Friends. Colleagues. Loved ones.
These people will recall you. They will feel connected. Your life and theirs inextricably linked through a bond. Maybe the bond is tangible, physical. Maybe it is emotional. Maybe it is transparent, maybe it is just there in the system, felt in the ether.
Others you have touched, you may not even realise it to be so.
In the midst of your own hectic, muddled life, you may have inadvertently dropped little traces of you on your journey. Like a dusting of you, cascading in your wake. Equally you may have deliberately acted, not seeking gain, not cognisant perhaps of the lasting impact or significant consequences that result for that person, or those close to them. You may have done this through…
An impromptu smile
A comforting word
A timely glance
A small act of kindness
Listening when someone needed to be heard
Witnessing someone’s truth
A small but critical thank you
A heartfelt hug
A positive thought
With fairy-like footprints, we invisibly stand in people’s lives, often unaware of those we have touched.
But they remember. They know. They thank you.
It is world random acts of kindness day on November 13th. It seems as though we need a day for everything these days. Maybe we could try it without a special day?
There was a story the other week about two guys who spend their time topping up expired car park tickets using their own money. They spend £60 of their own money each week.
Doing something kind for someone makes you feel good.
But it seems there’s a science to it.
Scientists have long known that the hormone oxytocin plays essential physiological roles during birth and lactation with mother and baby bonding. Animal studies have shown that oxytocin can influence behavior too, prompting voles to cuddle up with their mates, for example, or to clean and comfort their pups. Now a raft of new research in humans suggests that oxytocin underlies the twin emotional pillars of civilized life, our capacity to feel empathy and trust.
I held my umbrella over someone’s head whilst the drizzle fell earlier today.
Kind, I thought.
So give it a go. Don’t wait for the official day, do something randomly kind now. Get a shot of warmth. Hormonally dose up on your oxytocin.