Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The Kindness of Strangers

If at some point in life you haven’t relied on the kindness of strangers or haven’t extended a kindness to a stranger, then face it—you’re not really living. Instead you must be moving through your days wrapped so tightly in your own self-absorbed world that you either haven’t noticed the kindnesses or you don’t bother to pay attention those sharing earth with you.

Several years ago I endured a sad experience that left me with the stunning knowledge that no one needs to show kindness to me. And as a result, I make it a point to always be thankful for even small acts of consideration. I know that someone else’s time or effort on my behalf is a gift.

Last month I was carrying two boxes, one stacked on the other, and was walking into a building. In front of the door were three or four concrete cylinders. You know, those structures to prevent someone from driving through double doors. Anyway, the wind was blowing, and my hair had webbed across my face. I decided to lean the boxes into the cylinder to free a hand so I could tuck my hair behind my ear.

While walking toward the cylinder, a woman’s voice behind me yelled out, “Oh, no. To your right. Move right!” As I got closer to my destination her shouts grew louder and more frantic, “Careful, no! Uh, uh—you’re going to crash!”

I made my desired connection, pushed my hip into the boxes, swiped my hair off my face, and tucked it behind my ear. As I did, footsteps quickened across the pavement, and the woman stopped next to me, asking, “Are you okay?”

When I explained I only wanted to clear my hair from my eyes, we both got a good laugh out of the situation. (I wonder what she though of me as I made a beeline straight to the barrier.) She shook her head and started off on her own errand, but I caught up to her and thanked her for her kindness and attention.

Lately I’ve been thinking about how we interact with the world around us. I’m trying to be more purposeful in acknowledging the little things and rejoicing in the kindness I receive or extend. Sometimes paying it forward is noticing the small things and being of assistance to one another in even trivial matters.

Joy isn’t necessarily found in the big events of life, but rather in the little, day-to-day moments. Don't you agree?


Jaime said...

agreed!!! So important to be thankful for the little things and express that to others too!!

Denise Miller Holmes said...

No. I don't agree. Just kidding! YES, I agree, and I think this world is so starved for kindness that one kind deed can change a person's day, week, year, or even life. Thank you for this post, Megan.

Megan DiMaria said...

Thanks, Jaime.

Denise, you shocked me for a moment. :)

Diane Marie Shaw said...

It is surprising that even a smile can have a huge impact on a person's day.
Great post.