Our choices can powerfully impact those around us. We get to choose how we want to show up when we walk into the coffee shop, take our seat on public transit, or call customer service. We have the option to acknowledge our shared humanity, and be present to one another. How do we want to show up? Who do we want to be?
Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness. Research has shown that kindness can lower blood pressure, improve heart health, reduce stress and anxiety, even lessen pain. Who wouldn’t want some of that?
By Danusha Laméris
I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead — you first,” “I like your hat.”
Here is a lovely example of humanity and a kind heart: As the bus slowed down at a crowded bus stop, the Pakistani bus conductor leaned from the platform and called out, "Six only!" The bus stopped. He counted on six passengers, rang the bell, and then, as the bus moved off, called to those left behind: "So sorry, plenty of room in my heart — but the bus is full." He left behind a row of smiling faces. It's not always what we do, it's the way we do it.
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