I spent the night before the start of my kindness challenge making kumquat jam and cookies – because baking helps me find the calm and, at that point, my mind was filled with questions and worries about kindness. For example, would an act have to be extraordinary – because I was worried that a small act would amount to nothing in what often feels like a tsunami of tough times? And how could I avoid being broke by the end of this – because a lot of ideas I have cost money? Also, was it enough to do one act a day in order to force multiply? And what was the difference between an act of kindness and common courtesy?
Before I even set foot out the door, the kindness challenge was asking me to think about how I would show up.
Eventually I settled on answers that resonated… An act of kindness is not quantifiable, nor is it financially accountable. And whether I did one act, or hundred, it would always be about the intent behind the act. I understood very clearly that this challenge was also about not turning away when I saw someone I could be of service to – and admitting to myself that I have sometimes turned away because I was embarrassed to step outside of my comfort zone. From that, I came to understand that acts of kindness are, in many ways, acts of love – and, in as much, selfless.
Nonetheless, by the end of the first day I was grateful for that kumquat jam session, because apart from smiles and “good mornings”, the opportunity to be deliberately kind had eluded me all day. It was only when I got home, faced with a kindness count of zero, that I had cause to think that perhaps one of my neighbours (who also lives alone) would like some jam. (She is forever leaving small containers of home-made soup at my door – always delicious.) And that this, unless I poisoned her with my first attempt at jam-making, would be considered a kind thing to do.
With an act of kindness under my belt, I had high hopes for the rest of the week.
Instead, during the next few days it was as though the universe was on a mission to deny me the chance to act kindly. I offered to make a colleague a cup of tea, instead she came with me and made it herself. I bought chocolate for the team, but given I ate it as well it felt like a hollow attempt. And so it went, that at every turn it felt as though I was being thwarted. Until I started to question whether this was because kindness couldn’t be – in fact shouldn’t be – so deliberately orchestrated. Rather, while remaining aware, I should just relax (hard for a Virgo) and let opportunities for kindness present themselves.
Standing in the shower on Thursday morning, I decided that I would feel better about my ability to be kind if I acknowledged that it also extended to all creatures great and small. Which meant that come Saturday I felt a heady sense of ‘being connected’ when a friend and I jumped into action to save one of our native marsupial neighbours in what I fondly called “Operation Injured Possum Rescue”.
I am still, however, regretful about the spider I drowned in the shower.
How did your first week go? Did you experience kindness? Did you have opportunity to be kind? How did it make you feel?
Linking up with Essentially Jess and #IBOT