We are so fortunate to live in the world we live in today. Technology has completely changed the world. It brings families across continents closer together and connected. Distance is no longer an excuse to fall out of touch with someone. We can request affordable car service, order late night take out, hire a painter, request laundry service, rent clothes, find a personal shopper and even order grocery delivery through our phones. We have more time now and more luxuries now. Heck, I’m even writing the draft of this blog on my phone on the bus to work. But I think that, with all the technology, maybe that’s why we stay so isolated in real life. We have lost those intangible skills we so desperately need in order to relate and interact with one another in person that we don’t know what to do.
On a separate note (but I swear it will all tie back together), I was discussing my job duties with my mentor and mentioned how even though I studied and became certified in my field, that I have no real world experience and therefore felt inadequate like I was constantly failing. He said to me…
“Everyone has to start somewhere. There is always a first time and chances are that the first time might be done completely wrong. You just don’t stop and quit. And you definitely don’t give up before you try.”
Wow! So maybe that’s why we’re not kind to others anymore. We’ve not experienced it yet and the first time is scary. Well, I’m here to tell you not to be afraid to be kind. Of all things in our lives that we should never give up on and to practice everyday it is kindness.
Perfect example was me yesterday. I was heading home from the store and I noticed a blind man waiting a block ahead of me to cross the street. This particular crosswalk has 5 corners so even when it’s a pedestrian’s time to walk, there may still be oncoming traffic. Well, because I’ve seen this man cross at that intersection before, I figured that he was able to figure it out. I could say that I didn’t want to insult him by assuming he couldn’t handle it. I have been on buses where seniors seemed insulted by me offering them a seat so why would I want to insult this blind man, right? The truth was, I was scared. Scared he may be offended and afraid I might hurt his feelings by insulting his abilities and just scared of anything else that was me over-thinking the situation. So I walked by and continued on my way, confident that he could handle the situation. But then, I had this nagging voice. I kept turning to look back to him and saw that he had 3 opportunities to cross but the oncoming traffic made him hesitate . The voice got louder and I finally turned back. I remember I was actually nervous. I stood next to him as if I were about to cross at that intersection as well. We missed our first chance to cross (it was possibly his 5th chance at this time) so at the next opportunity, I turned to him and asked if I could help him cross the street. He immediately agreed and held his arm up to me. I didn’t know what to do. A flashback to Al Pacino scolding Chris O’Donnell in Scent of a Woman flashed in my mind. I cannot hold on to his arm per the movie but the arm this man offered was holding his walking stick, I didn’t have a choice but to hold onto his arm versus him holding on to mine. I gently guided him across the street. As we walked, I mentioned how much I despised that particular crosswalk and we both had a laugh. He was grateful for the assistance. That was obvious. I made sure to ask if he needed my assistance further before leaving him and returning back to where we originally started so I could go back home. He needn’t know I was originally going in the opposite direction.
I thought about how often I’m grateful when people offer help without my prompting. Sure, we are all independent, strong and capable. But isn’t it great when you don’t have to carry the load alone? When you have a friend (or friendly stranger) to help you? Let’s not be afraid to be kind. Being kind is what makes us so unique. Being kind is what unites us. Being kind is what changes our lives. Please don’t be afraid to be kind. And if it is awkward and clunky in the beginning, well…practice makes perfect!
*photo by Alex