The Gift of Kindness
Has anyone ever asked you: if you could live in any era other than now, when would you live? Would you pick a time when you could possibly meet George Washington, Albert Einstein, Napoleon Bonaparte? Would you want to live during the Gilded Age, the Industrial Age, the Progressive Age?
I have always said I would want to live at the time of the Westward Expansion, during the 1800s. The idea of vast expanses of land as far as the eye can see, thrills me. It probably stems from my love of the book series, Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. While this is a great hypothetical question, the reality of it tells me I need to think a little harder.
On December 23 and 24th, we lost power for about 8 to 9 hours each day. Keep in mind, even though it was cold, we were still inside a well-insulated home that didn’t get very cold. We had a generator so we could plug in the coffeemaker and a couple of lamps. We didn’t have to go hunt our food or build a fire to cook it, and still I was done with it all. So maybe I wouldn’t be as good with the prairie and the wagon train as I’d like to think.
On the second morning with no power, I ventured out to see if anything was open or how far down the road the power failure went. I came to a small intersection with a red light that wasn’t working.
The car in front of me turned right. I pulled up to the line and stopped, waiting for the car coming from the other direction to go, but the man stopped and waited for me to pull out. I waved my thanks and smiled at him.
As I was driving down the road, I glanced in my rearview mirror, and I noticed that he was not riding my bumper impatiently the way I expected him to. He was tooling along at a very respectable distance. I couldn’t help but think what a gift.
I started thinking how sad that a common courtesy is now a gift. In all honesty this is something that is such a small thing that it should be taken for granted, but in actuality, it is so rare that it’s startling.
In Charlotte traffic and probably everywhere else as well, we typically pull up to the bumper of the car in front of us so no one else can get in. We speed up or slow down to claim our space and to make sure that we are winning some imaginary race that will result in the winner arriving a few seconds earlier.
I know I talk frequently about small acts of random kindness, and that’s because I frequently get overwhelmed by the ugliness of the world, and I wonder what could I possibly do to help make this better?
And just about the time I think there’s nothing to be done, no way to help, someone holds a door, picks up something I’ve dropped, lets me in in traffic, and I’m reminded of the often used quote by Mother Theresa, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” And it gives me hope.