Human Kindness

If you watch the evening news, listen to world affairs in the car or read my favorite mini-version email of it all, The Skimm, it’s difficult not to feel that our world is full of division, derision and anger. In our own country, we are inundated with impeachment, Democrats fighting Republicans, Congress fighting the President, the “have nots” fighting the “haves.” For the past months I have been consumed by our  nation’s present political drama, or the media’s depiction of it, and worried it is making a mockery of our government and our values.  But then the global news is filled with social clashes, exits and Brexits, leaders in, leaders out, promises made, promises broken.  Truths and half truths keeping everyone on edge or in the streets in defiance of someone and something that displeases them.

Listening to it all, I found myself wringing my hands and searching the sky for the lightening bolt that would signal the start of the apocalypse. Then I took a road trip to my home in West Virginia which helped me take deep breaths and regain some perspective.  Being in the land of my people always centers me a bit and reminds me that there are plenty of good people, solid, salt-of-the-earth folks left in this world amidst all the publicized drama seekers.

Driving there, my deep breath transformation began with an accident I witnessed on the opposite side of a four lane divided highway I travel often.  The single car mishap must have happened seconds before I drove past because the car was lying on it’s hood, straddling the grassy median, it’s wheels still turning.  There was no driver in sight or the feeling of any movement in the car.  A man just behind the car was out of his vehicle and running toward the upturned car, talking on his cell.  I assumed he was calling 911 as he approached the driver’s side. I thought how brave he was to come to the assistance of a stranger with no idea what he would find when he arrived. If he wasn’t a doctor, nurse or off-duty EMT, what could he do? Would the driver be alive?  Conscious? If so, would he simply console him until medical help or the police arrived? Hold his/her hand?  Just “be” with the victim?

That man’s bravery and expression of human kindness for a total stranger started a domino effect of looking for the best in those around me and trying to invite goodwill rather than negativity. Then flipping through my 10,000 plus iphotos looking for an old snapshot of my kids, I stumbled on the pictured quote. I don’t recall where I saw it but as a person who believes few things happen by chance, I knew why I found it at that moment. I was inspired to focus on the good whenever and wherever possible and reminded that ninety percent of what others spew in our faces is their personal issues, not a reflection of us. I remembered Ann Frank’s famous diary entry, “I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

And as no surprise, I began to receive the positive energy I was sending out. Smiles brought smiles. Engagement with others in the present moment took my day-to-day from black and white to technicolor. Or in millennial speak, from 70 to 300 pixels. Focusing on and inviting the positive helped blur the anger and fear in our society.

Having a three inch snow on Halloween that didn’t keep any of my annual 400 rambunctious trick or treaters indoors, I again thought of the perseverance of the human spirit. So as the leaves fill up my gutters and the overnight temperatures have turned my mums to some sort of brown tumbleweed, we head toward the end of fall. With Thanksgiving and Christmas nearly upon us, I want to keep the joy of the holidays foremost in my mind rather than falling prey to the hustle and bustle of the season, endless lists, long lines, impatient drivers.

I want to concentrate on the magic not the tragic, the hope not the despair.

My grandsons asked me if there is a Santa the other evening as I was tucking them into bed and I heard my mother’s answer spoken as clearly as though she was sitting with us.

“He will come as long as you believe in him,” I replied, kissing their foreheads.

Tis the season to hope. Believe. And be grateful for little boys that want to hold on to the magic of this time of year despite the nine-year-old naysayers that try to convince them otherwise.

A time to stay in the moment.  Live in the present rather than fretting and worrying about the future which seems to be my genetic propensity. A time to surround yourself with people who make you laugh, forget the bad and focus on the good.

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  1. Barb Koskinen

    Thank you, again, dear Nancy, for putting things in perspective and re-invigorating positive vibes in me (and everyone else who reads this!)

  2. Ramona templin

    Love your blog, dearest Nancy.

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