random acts of kindness

I was dragging myself back from the store on yet another relentlessly hot, humid afternoon. I had a slight headache, and I was tired in the soul-deep way only three months of hideous summer can make me.

Hi, said a cheery little voice.

I was walking past a kindergarten. Sometimes the little children stand at the gate and try to engage with passersby. I didn't want to say hi. I was too tired, too hot. I just wanted to get home. But I turned my head, smiled, and waved a finger. It was such a small thing, but it felt like a lot to do - heaving myself up out of my focus, into the heat of the afternoon, to engage with a stranger.

Hi, I said to the little girl dressed as a princess. She was sheer, holy radiance in dark skin and a blue dress. She took my smile very simply, and then danced around to say hi to the next person. Grinning, I walked home.

The heat was still awful. My headache still hurt. But I knew I had contributed my little bit towards helping that girl grow up believing this is a good world. That made me feel better about myself.

There are many wonderful stories of kindness, goodness, and charity in the world. Even before the hideously Hollywoodised notion of "pay it forward" became popular (and I don't like it - real kindness does not expect any reward, not even an unselfish one) people have been doing good.

Because people are mostly good.

It's hard to believe that sometimes when all we see is horror in the media. But I know it to be true. People are mostly good.

People are also tired. They are hot, or worn out with snow and cold. They have financial stresses, or are worried about something going on at work. They fought with their wife that morning and regret it. They have toothache. They're scared. They're lonely. They're overwhelmed with all the noise. People are fragile. Sometimes a smile is all they can give. Sometimes not even that - but you never know what's occuring inside. A child says hello and they just walk past. But maybe that sweet innocence kisses their heart very gently, and maybe in a hour's time they are patient with someone on the phone, or they thank a checkout operator, or hug their wife.

Even the smallest kindness can do the greatest good.

A woman said in response to a story of kindness, "I want to do something like this, but I never see any opportunity." I wished I could tell her that every moment is full of opportunities for goodness ...

Let someone else go first.
Thank a checkout operator.
Wish the call centre representative a good day.
Plant alyssum for the sake of bees.
Buy free range eggs even if they cost a little more.
Be excited when you see (a little girl dressed as) a fairy.
Say good morning when you pass your neighbour at their gate.
Use clear fonts on your weblog for the sake of short-sighted readers.
Walk to the store instead of driving.
Tell your children how proud you are of their good acts.
Phone your grandmother.
See the homeless man.
Accept the kindness.
Laugh at the stupid joke.
Just honestly and quietly smile.


  1. Beautiful and true. Oh, it is so very hard to live this way lately as many of us walk through life wearing our battle armour, but I've witnessed this beauty everyday, since The Bard lives this way. (he says it is the only way.) Funny, it's so rare now to be kind that things tend to run smoothly for him, simply because of his manner - just another perk to living gently.

  2. sometimes I think rudeness is unkindness but if I really take the time, those rude people are probably not as rude as I think but it's not something I can think of when my own problems gets in the way of seeing that person. but you are right. people are generally good. I mean, I wish I could see that sometimes but I do try to be kind even if just holding doors for someone.

    hope you have a good day.

  3. I like your new look. I always like your new looks! :)

  4. Thank you Amy. And thank you Aine and Lissa for your much appreciated comments.

  5. I love your photo--a china bowl/teacup full of blossoms, so lovely!

    I love your post, too. This morning it occurred to me that kindness can also come in the form of not doing something, such as not complaining, or not burdening others with our problems, or not taking the best ___ (food, seat, etc.) for ourselves.

  6. I’m glad it was useful to me. Thanks for your work.