Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Importance of Kindness

Today, FryDaddy and I met our friend Barefoot for lunch.  Nothing big - it was at a place where you unwrap your food as opposed to white tablecloths.  But the company was stellar and the conversation sparkled.  All of which reminded me of a few things.

See, life has been a little too hectic lately.  I know it's not the Universe being Out to Get Me, but pressure has been coming from enough different angles to make me feel a bit "squozed" lately.  Too much work, in too little time, with too little rest will do that to me.  Add to that the fact that the news stories lately have been dominated by accounts of humans acting as if they had been raised by rabid hyenas, and a certain world-weariness had begun to creep into my everyday thinking.

Things just aren't that bad.  Not really - not the Big Stuff.  So with the changing of the seasons, it seems like a good time for a short list of things that show me that humanity still falls on the "worth saving" side of the scale and that I've got it pretty darned good.  For instance:

  • I live in a neighborhood where most people wave back at me when I'm out on my almost-daily walk with Spooky.  Or even when it's just me.
  • On the tragic anniversary of 9/11, I am reminded of the prayer of Father Mychal Judge, who believed so wholeheartedly in the basic goodness of humanity that his desires were summed up as, "Lord, take me where You want me to go, let me meet who You want me to meet, tell me what Your want me to say, and keep me out of Your way."
  • For my vocation (from the Latin vocare, "to call"), I do work that matters that I usually enjoy.
  • For my avocation, I do work that I enjoy.  FryDaddy and I are partway through the final push on the Wanna Cook? project and, not only do we manage to write together without getting our egos bruised by the other's editing of our work, we have a book cover!  And a pre-order page on Amazon!
  • There are entire Websites devoted to spreading news of people doing good things, often anonymously.  They remind me that I can do that, too.
  • Postsecret - a great site that reminds me that humanity is silly, soulful, caring, whimsical, and sometimes in desperate need of a hug.
Most days, I remember that I'm worth taking care of and - here's the shocker - other people seem to agree with me on that point.  It's weird how willing most of us are to take care of other people, while treating ourselves pretty much like three-day-old fish.  Kindness should flow inward, as well as outward.  Now I know that not every problem in my life - or in anybody's - can be solved with a hot bath and a well-brewed cup of tea, but those things seldom make things worse and so often (so very, very often) it's all about realizing that every day comes with an ending, that situations are temporary.

It's certainly true that you can't control your circumstances - you may well have ridiculous work deadlines or asylum-ready co-workers or a deeply-hurting shoulder or more errands to run than you have time/money and the kitty clearing off your nightstand might be the final straw that day.  What you CAN control is your reaction to those circumstances.  Accept that things seem off, that the pressures are mounting and a release is necessary for the mental (and quite possibly, the physical) health of you and those around you.  Then go take care of yourself, in whatever way doesn't involve destruction (no fair scaring animals, children, or adults who live with you) and start over the next day.  Some favorite suggestions:

  • Gorge on dollar store candy while glaring at a salad (I recommend Sugar Babies or Red Hots, although I wouldn't sneer at a package of Reese's Cups)
  • Watch a favorite movie or TV show (I find Firefly and Casablanca to be strong medicine)
  • Take the phone off the hook (short term only, otherwise people who love you worry)
  • Shut off the e-mail and texting devices (again, short term only)
  • Take a break from the 24-hour news cycle
  • Go on a long drive up to the coast or out to the mountains with Motown blaring from the radio.  It doesn't matter if you don't get wherever "there" is, just change your scenery for a bit.
Life is worth living and it's worth living well.    Make it a personal mission statement to do just that - especially in the times of turmoil.

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