I have always been startled by the deep emotional responses people have to the simplest of gestures. I take for granted the part of my nature that takes care of others. In fact, I've never consider these simple things actually 'taking care of.' The healing work, sure. It's never a subtle exchange so each session stands out. The momentum of snot and awe and relief are so dramatic they can't be dismissed. But hitting the button on a tea kettle or making the guy who spent the night breakfast? In my head, if I'm standing by the kettle and it needs turning on, I just do it. I don't think twice about it (actually, I did once because I've turned on the kettle when it didn't have water in it and that'll make you think about the kettle-water thing at least once afterward). If I'm making myself breakfast, why wouldn't I do the same for the person who just spent hours naked with me? To watch the tears fall as sweet potato is grated and the toast dropped makes me wonder why it is the simple gestures of kindness are so foreign to so many?
Why would someone be bug-eyed astonished when brought a fluffy, punchable pillow to help them be more comfortable on a far-too-short couch? Why would another in her 60s say, "I never knew I was cherished until now"?
I don't ask this rhetorically. I'm in the midst of my own ponderings about kindness. A friend on Facebook quoted someone about science and tech growing more than morality and I said this in response:
I don't think that's true at all. The whole good vs bad thing holds a steady course that grows along with everyone. Generally, I think, we choose not to seek out or pay attention to those things that offer loving action and inspiration. It seems like we think those things are surprises, little sprinklings, that are hidden away in all the shit. It's just the shit that makes the news-noise. We love each other majestically all the time, all over. We do real and good and stupidly simple, powerfully amazing things for each other all the time, all over.
In the day since I wrote that I've reconsidered my opinion. After I wrote it, I wondered if it was just a knee-jerk response to argue with yet more 'the doom of humanity' or another view from my Pollyana-land. If we really do love each other majestically, why is it that such simple things seem so rare in my circle? Now, granted my circle is a small one but whether client, one night stand or friend, why is it that the little things bring forth such a response? Is it because they're more rare than I think they are or want them to be? Was I being a hypocrite to make a point? Entirely forgetting that I encounter the tears of gratitude more than I do the simple kindnesses myself? I dunno.
I do know these responses arise because they really do make a difference. The little things show love, a connection, break up the loneliness of another--even if just for a moment. What some of us take for granted, others haven't experienced and we can bring a sprinkle of kindness where ever we are. How you show up for others truly makes a difference in their lives.
Make someone a cup of tea, let them merge in front of you, fold the laundry, give the corner dude $10 without judging how it'll be spent, or whatever it is that crosses your heart in the moment. And, here's the thing, it's high time we behaved this way toward ourselves, too. High time. Maybe if we do more of the little things for ourselves and each other there will be less tears of loss. (Oh, and make sure there's water in the kettle.)