when outrageous acts of kindness are the only sure thing
seems time, people. for all of us to pull up our chairs, circle in tight, make room for whoever’s there to your left. seems time, people, for an economic summit of the chair kind.
news everywhere we turn is getting drearier, bleaker, less inclined to offer us the reprieve of sweet dreams in the night. why, as one of the smart newsfolk in my newsroom said just yesterday, “it’s like your arm is getting cut off and you have to figure out how to keep on going.”
that sad statement in reference to the 20 fine souls–some of them legends in chicago journalism, which long has been the stuff of legend, of course–summarily fired, out of the blue, late last week. told to turn in their badges and be gone from the building by 5 the next day. oh, and no more insurance besides.
in times like these it seems to me the only thing that’s going to ensure our survival is the one thing i’ve not heard enough of, though i know, yes i know, it’s happening under the radar.
what we need, people, is to begin thinking outside of the box. we need to search for and exercise random and unspoken acts of pure kindness. we need to be each other’s safety net, when the net that’s out there is pocked full of holes.
this, then, is a call to kindness. to get up off our couches, the ones that sop up our sorrows and the runaway kernels of popcorn besides. we need to immunize each other with booster shots of no-reason-really acts of outrageousness. or even just simple delights.
see someone standing there in the rain at the bus stop? pull over. give ‘em a ride. what, you think you’ll get mugged, there in your leafy small town? and for you who dwell in the big bad cities, well, give ‘em a once-over, use your brain, then pull over as long as you don’t smell trouble.
or, perhaps it’s simply that someone you know is extremely down in the dumps. maybe what you need to do is get in your car, steer over there, right now, and knock on the door. and then, just sit there and listen. or bring over a movie. an A-number-one tear-jerker, and then the two of you can sit there, sobbing and blowing your nose, and by the end, by the time the credits are rolling, you’ll feel, oh, 10 pounds lighter, at least. unless of course you brought along milk duds and you look down and see that the box is, hmm, somehow all empty. oh, well.
far as i can tell, we need to start this stimulus right here at the kitchen table. we need to be bold. we need to be daring. we need, most of all, to remember that we too can be the solution. or at least a little smidge of it.
know someone out of a job?
know anyone who might maybe be able to in some way employ that someone? well, then: ask. write a letter. put in a good word. and, heck, maybe a plea. while you’re at it, go back to the someone and remind him or her just how splendid they are. trust me, they’re not feeling so splendid these days.
maybe that out-of-work someone, or anyone else, could use a big fat care package. tucked full of things you sure wouldn’t buy if you were counting out your very last nickels and dimes. i’d put in bubble bath. for certain. and maybe a long skinny vanilla bean. because who doesn’t feel a whole lot better inhaling the tropical pod? i might toss in a sleeve of saltines, because around here lately they’ve been curing all sorts of ails. campbell’s soup, come to think of it, wouldn’t be a bad idea either. chicken noodle’s great for the slurps, and tomato is known to calm a bad tummy.
what i’m thinking–and remember i’m no engineer, haven’t a clue really what makes a car pull out of the alley–is that it’s all about momentum. we rev up the engine, do our one little random act of pure goodness, next thing we know there’s combustion.
my good thing inspires your good thing. my one thing leads to two things. suddenly, we take off the ground. we’re humming here. good things are flying like rockets.
before long, we expect that that’s the way the world works.
i know, i know. i’m still basically a cock-eyed optimist. thinking, like glinda the goodwitch, all it takes is the shake of a stick, and poof, frogs turn to princes.
well, maybe not quite.
but what’s the choice, people? we sit here wringing our hands, rubbing raw our knuckles with worry. we pace in circles. breathe so rapidly and shallowly we all start falling down on the ground, in sad little heaps?
or, we begin here a catalogue of kindness.
beware, it might be contagious, and it could spread without warning.
so, sign up below. fling forth ideas. each and every one is free for the taking. if you try one out, and it works, report back.
we’re looking to start a revolution here. be not afraid. timid, be not.
get goin’ people, think outa the box. think kindness. and don’t shy away from outrageous.
it’s the only sure thing.
this is a democratic society here. vote once, vote often. the more we catalog, the more chance of getting this off the ground and taking true flight.
your ideas, stories, dispatches…sign in below.
as someone who just had the gift of being surrounded by friends and family at my wedding in January, I am overwhelmed with the gift of stories and the gift of old connections renewed and new connections made between friends and family. One month after our wedding, I continue to return to all of the amazing stories of the weekend, how my best friend from home and another dear kindred spirit felt like they had known each other for years and confided their hopes and dreams to one another until the wee hours of the night. To hear that it was not only important to dance and raise a toast for our wedding, but breaking bread together brought tears to people’s eyes, these are the stories that feed me.How wonderful and amazing are the material gifts that people gave to us, but truly it is the stoires, the moments of awe and the connections that will stay with me forever.I put a call out there for more sharing of stories, so that people can realize that they aren’t the only one with such hopes, fears, or experiences. Whether it be at a cyber table or pot of soup, a good old fashioned campfire,a living room or even the local watering hole, I hope we can return, now more than ever to the importance of telling and listening to one another’s stories.
Funny you should ask. The soup is simmering on my stove right now. Two houses away, there’s a couple, mid 40’s, 2 grammar school aged children. They are both the best neighbors. The guy would and has done all sorts of neighborly good deeds for so many people here, especially for me when my husband travels. He is a police officer, and just knowing that he’s close by gives many of us a feeling of great security. At his so very young age, he had an angina attack on Monday, and open heart surgery yesterday. Yes, he will recover, he will be home with his children and wife in a few days, but it’s such a shock. So, they need food to nourish them and the soup will soon be delivered. It’s not much, but I know there will be hugs and encouraging words delivered with that soup. Next week when the confusion stops and reality sets in, I’ll make a gift basket, wine, chocolates, that sort of thing for his wife. By then she will surely need more than soup. I’ve always held to the cliche that you never know what the day will bring, and this situation slapped some reality into my belief. There are people in need everywhere. May the catalogue of kindness continue!
“Think kindness” – what a compelling mandate you have laid out here for us all. SO many ways this might occur but so often it does not.SO many in need of this touch of humanity during these dark and quite scary daysI have no story worthy of telling but I am now off in search of performing an act of kindness.
compassion: deep awareness of others’ suffering, accompanied by the desire to alleviate it. joe zeman 1930-2007. be the change.
ahhh, MB, you bring a tear to my eye. i’ve got that right here in the drawer that presses against my belly as i write. the pigeon man was and is my inspiration. those are, indeed, the words that marked his memorial. be the change……begin now.bless you for bringing him to the table. bless the pots of zoup, bless the stories. bless the chocolates that will be delivered next week.
Acts of kindness … someone near and dear to my heart gave me a gift this past weekend. I am so humbled because she, and her beloved husband are both out of work and facing an uncertain future. Precious and few are the dollars in her purse, yet she chose to bless me and show me that even in the toughest times we can still give …… sometimes out of our deepest need.Folks are on edge … me included … we don’t know what tomorrow holds … but I am grateful that I know who holds the future and I am safe and secure in His hands. Kind words, a warm smile, a phone call, a listening ear, an understanding hug, a visit …. they cost nothing but are worth everything. Thanks, bam, for being the sparkplug this gal needed to pay it forward.
I have returned from a retreat this past week and have brought back with me a conscious way to “be with others” that is small beginning toward kindness. During the retreat, our teacher asked us to take a position of “Clinging, attaching, clutching…” by pulling in our elbows close to our bodies, extending our forearms, curling in our hands and then, grabbing the air, pulling them in to our chest – as if we were clutching something close. We all did this….and pulled inward with great strength. She then asked us to take a position of “release” and to slowly unbend our arms, open our hands and gently let them fall and float outward as if we were emptying armfuls of flower petals to the ground. After repeating the two movements several times, we realized the difference in our bodies. When we grabbed and clutched to ourselves. our jaws tightened, our eyes narrowed, and we felt bound up. When we released and opened our arms, our faces relaxed and our eyes opened. We often react to life and people by clutching and clinging to our beliefs, our assumptions, our judgements. It prevents us from being wholly present to whatever life has dealt to us. As our eyes narrow and tense , so does our vision and ability to see all the possibilities of a situation or person because we have already named it and judged it. When we empty ourselves of all that and release what we have clung to…our eyes open, our minds clear and we can perhaps begin to see so much more and be more thoughtful. As these days have gone by, I have used this small exercise before and sometimes in the middle of those moments when I am finding myself reacting to others or moments. I just breathe and let my arms fall away…releasing anything that is getting in the way of being open to life’s possibilities. I think it makes a difference in what I bring to others and indirectly to myself – especially for those who need all the possibilities that life can offer right now. It can be a small kindness to others and ourselves, in a world that really really needs some kindness…thank you Ms. Bam!
Another act of kindness–shop locally for goods and services.
I just checked the Obituaries and my name wasn’t in there. I’m alive and enjoying my many freedoms–what I think, what I say, and best of all what I do. A Chicago girl chose to use her writing gift and create a blog so people can give and receive ideas freely. That’s America. The land of the free, and the home of the brave. Takes a brave heart to be a free spirit. 🙂
you are by far one of thee best wind beneath the wings kind of folks-you provoke us into dwelling higher than we possibly might have gone had it not been for your big spirit, that to my eyes, refuses to get any loftier unless you take everybody with you…so, in changing the world, i must constanlty change myself, be kinder than necessarry, keeping in mind that people who need loving the most deserve it the least- i know love, i must project that knowledge. i know peace, again- project. i know beauty-project, project, project!and i know pain…but what purpose truly would it serve mankind to dwell there in the shadows? none that i can see. but i will project the light that guidied me from dark to today.and i will teach, with every opportunity- that love always creates…Help us to be ever faithful gardeners of the spirit, who know that without darkness nothing comes to birth, and without light nothing flowers.- May Sarton
listen to true, people, she’s as wise as they come. she farms love for a living. and wisdom too. xoxoxoxoxooxoxox
I am listening – Thank you!