While I’ve always been one to do my best to embrace a compassionate life, making kindness a priority ( having had it drilled into my head from a tender age “to do unto others” and that the late great real-life Superman Christopher Reeves was spot-on when he called his brand of religion “do good feel good, do bad, feel bad”), raw truth be told I don’t think I completely wholly understood how essential, vital, crucial and transformative kindness is – even the smallest of acts – until this horrific, globe terrorizing and soul and life depleting pandemic showed up and turned our largely checked out me-centric world on its ignorant head. Another of its silver linings? Methinks yes …
What we’ve now seen up close and personal, after over a year of living in this surreal and devastating space, is just how difference-making a little kindness and compassion can be when the going gets tough, really tough. To that end, countless extraordinary examples – too numerous to capture in one post – continue to play out on our large and small screens, some forever ingrained in my mind’s eye …
The obvious first example: Those unfailingly courageous first responders and health professionals who not only risk their own lives every time they step into ambulances and hospitals (at the beginning of the pandemic, often minus the PPE they desperately needed for their own safety), but continue to go far above and beyond the call of duty, staying close to patients deprived of loved ones in their most vulnerable time, doing everything in their power to establish much needed human connections through cell phones and iPads, often masterminding goodbyes – heartbreaking and heart-wrenching as they are – that would have otherwise been impossible without their intervention.
Example two: the incredible heroes and sheroes among us, masquerading as ordinary citizens, who, despite so many challenges in their respective orbits, saw and continue to see fit to come up with a surfeit of ingenious ways to reach out and help others facing even bigger challenges, from students who pool resources and unite to offer invaluable delivery and other vital support to seniors in their areas, to restaurant owners confronting unimaginable trials in their industry but still, putting aside such urgent situations to form emergency food supply systems successfully warding off hunger for many (heightened food insecurity being one of the most formidable byproducts the pandemic left in its wake) while offering sustenance to frontline workers often too overwhelmed and overextended to factor food prep into unpredictable schedules as well.
Finally, forever imprinted on my mind in this context of human kindness, perhaps because of a long and beautiful relationship with the escapist and therapeutic properties of melody: The many contributions of the famous and not so famous musically inclined – locally and across the globe – who understood early on how mood enhancing and uplifting their gift of music could be, selflessly sharing their talents via big slick zoomified productions (hello J-Lo and more!) or, conversely, in the most unconventional of ways, be it teetering from balconies to give impromptu neighborhood concerts to grateful snapping spectators, or, like our very own piano man, James Levac, biking his piano to myriad destinations around Toronto, much to the delight of passers-by and crowd gatherers quickly seduced by his impressive renditions of recognizable tunes, old and new.
Clearly, acts of kindness have made a tremendous difference as we navigate the unchartered waters of a global pandemic. In my little world, I continue to be awed by how profoundly certain small gestures have affected me and similarly how simple gestures of my own have been received by others; the friend who calls to share a laugh she knew would break me up, not realizing how badly I needed a good giggle at that moment after receiving some pretty upsetting news; the older relative who thanked me so much for the FaceTime confessing that the day had really been rough until we caught up and shone some sunlight; the client turned friend who reached out to tell me flipping through my last edition of the magazine reminded her of better days and she couldn’t wait to collaborate again soon, offering much needed hope for the future; the grocery store associate who suddenly went from stressed to smiling when I thanked him for his brave service, confessing how nice it was to be noticed.
Maybe I’m crazy to share the following (alas my perennial dreamer is showing) but it is my sincere wish for us all that we not forget how imperative it is to continue to keep thinking of each other as we have, once we move to the other side of this wreckage and return to some semblance of normal life; that we remember how mood, day and life altering a little human kindness can be. Years ago, my mothership, the Montreal Gazette, ran one of its most memorable campaigns to date entitled WORDS MATTER, underscoring the great power of our words and how important it is to use them wisely. I adored that initiative for obvious reasons, words being such a critical component of my professional life. That said, it inspired another life campaign I’d like to get behind now and forever: KINDNESS MATTERS. Big time.
With that, I close today’s lesson with a little story I fell upon recently that not only highlights the life-changing – and saving- difference kindness can make and chain of good it can initiate, but the simple fact we can all make a difference, no matter our stature:
One day a Lion was asleep when a little Mouse began running up and down his back; this soon wakened the Lion, who placed his huge paw upon him, and opened his big jaws to swallow him.
“Please don’t,” cried the little Mouse: “forgive me this time, I shall never forget it: who knows but I may be able to do you a turn some of these days?” The Lion was so tickled at the idea of the Mouse being able to help him that he lifted up his paw and let him go.
Some time after the Lion was caught in a trap, he pulled with all his might, but the ropes were too strong. Just then the little Mouse happened to pass by, and seeing the sad plight, in which the Lion was, went up to him, and with his sharp little teeth gnawed away the ropes, setting the Lion free.
“You once laughed at me,” said the mouse. You thought I was too little to do you a good turn. But see, you owe your life to a little mouse.”
‘Hope you all enjoyed this latest lesson. As always, I welcome your input, brain-babies and shares. They fire the soul! For more lessons, and companion materials, play around on the site and check out our shares, videos etc on SM, especially the wild world of Insta.