On kindness

This apartment flood disaster has really thrown me off.

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The gale-force fans and deafening dehumidifiers have messed with sleep for five days now.

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The furniture clutter is fraying my nerves. Tonight our place will finally be dry enough to put some of it back, but we won’t do much because the carpet and baseboards won’t be repaired for days yet.

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The blocked-off kitchen (complete with dehumidifier hose down the drain) is keeping me from cooking and eating well.

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But there have been bright spots.

Our building manager skipped his Sunday breakfast to dive into disaster control. Several friends offered to help move stuff. Two of them are even cooking us dinner tonight. We hadn’t seen them in awhile, but they noticed our flood photos on Facebook and offered their home as a refuge for an evening.

Kindness matters. It’s memorable. In the end, it’s more important and lasting than so many of the things we strive for.

I just came across a commencement speech on kindness. Here’s the gist:

What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. 

Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded… sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.

Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope: Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth?

Those who were kindest to you, I bet.

It’s a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I’d say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder.

In general, I think, I’m nice to people. But am I actively kind? Defending and helping people is so different than just being generally nice — it’s much harder, and also much more rewarding for everyone.

So today I’m grateful to all the kindness people have shown us. And I resolve to show more kindness in return.

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