We had some holes in our walls. More than one, quite a lot more. To be fair, our house is old and the walls are crumbly, not terribly hard to puncture. But still…

Let’s fix the walls, I said to Dave. But we may not be past the holes in the wall time, Dave answered. I think, I replied, that we need to do it anyway, to see a reflection of where we want to go rather than where we’ve been. 

I sent an email to our neighborhood listserv asking for names of people who could so some wall repairs and a guy down the street we barely know, a guy who I’ve seen once or twice when he’s borrowed our wheelbarrow said he’d be happy to come over and do it for us.

We’re happy to pay you, I said, it’s sort of a big job. 

No, no, he said. I needed to learn how to do this some time ago and I’m happy to pass it on.

He came, three times actually, with his putty and spackle utensil-thingy, his good cheer, his careful work and instructions, and never once asked how we came to have all the holes.

I’m grateful for kindnesses.

A woman at my support group this morning said she wished she’d win to the lottery so she could hand out wads of cash to moms she witnessed in the middle of a struggle time with their child out in the world. She said, “I’d say, you’re doing an amazing job. You’re amazing.”

I loved the sentiment. But I don’t have extra wads of cash around. So I thought, you know what? I’m going to make cards that essentially say the same thing, carry them around in my purse, and when I see a parent in the middle of a jam, working hard to hang in there or working hard to ignore the stares and clicking tongues of other people who can’t find their compassion, I’m going hand it to her. Or him. Here. I see you. And you know what? You are amazing. And so is your kid.



Print them out. Hand them out. Or better yet, make some of your own. Write down whatever you’d like to hear from a perfect stranger when you’re losing your shit and dropping your purse and starting to sweat and pee in your pants just a tiny bit because the bladder? She’s a little weary. Write down what would make you feel seen, feel brave, feel less alone. And pass them out.

Let’s do it. Let’s spread the kindnesses around. All around.

3 thoughts on “Kindnesses

  1. Kindness : A poem by Naomi Shihab Nye
    2010 October 2
    tags: is personal
    by Tanya McGinnity

    Before you know what kindness really is
    you must lose things,
    feel the future dissolve in a moment
    like salt in a weakened broth.
    What you held in your hand,
    what you counted and carefully saved,
    all this must go so you know
    how desolate the landscape can be
    between the regions of kindness.
    How you ride and ride
    thinking the bus will never stop,
    the passengers eating maize and chicken
    will stare out the window forever.

    Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
    you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
    lies dead by the side of the road.
    You must see how this could be you,
    how he too was someone
    who journeyed through the night with plans
    and the simple breath that kept him alive.

    Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
    you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
    You must wake up with sorrow.
    You must speak to it till your voice
    catches the thread of all sorrows
    and you see the size of the cloth.

    Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
    only kindness that ties your shoes
    and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
    purchase bread,
    only kindness that raises its head
    from the crowd of the world to say
    it is I you have been looking for,
    and then goes with you every where
    like a shadow or a friend.

    From Heidi

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s