“No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” –Aesop
I am forever in awe of the power created by an act of kindness. For some reason, I always become more aware of this during the holiday season. I think it’s because it feels much busier in the day to day world, and there seems to be a common theme for people to be on autopilot, myself included. I love to be awakened out of this; to come back to the place of remembering what is important – ‘connection’. Connection with family and loved ones, connection with the grocery store clerk or others in a busy line up, and then remembering the importance to take a moment to give eye contact or a smile to the people we are sharing space with out in the world. Giving others the gift of attention and connection, is so powerful and uplifting. I was fortunate to receive a wonderful reminder of this the other day.
I had a bit of free time in between picking my children up from preschool and school and figured I’d get some errands done. So after spending half of that time finding parking in a heavy rainstorm, I hurried into the store with the other few hundred or so shoppers. We were all doing the exact same dance, at what felt like, the exact same time. I made up for lost time quickly. I went about tackling my list, weaving my way in and out of the busy aisles to gather my groceries and other items listed on my sopping wet sticky note. Then I came to the holiday aisle, and already deep in my own little world, I began to think maybe I should go ahead and get the artificial Christmas tree I know my husband would be really grateful for.
You see, we just moved into a new place and it has been a topic of discussion. It goes something like this: my husband really not wanting to bring in the mess, wet and hassle of a real tree; and me wanting the cherished experience of going to a tree farm with our kids and good friends. Then as we sip hot chocolate, we scour the woods to find the perfect real, wonderful smelling tree that will result in the very best first Christmas in our new home. So, there I am deep in thought, as though I am the only one in the store, with my cart already much too full. I’m just standing there in front of the giant Christmas tree packed into an even bigger box, wondering what I should do. So to myself, I make the decision that, while the hot chocolate and time with our friends is always something I am up for; it would be a bit more practical to welcome the very real looking tree standing before me, to become our family tree forever more.
Now comes the issue as to how I am going to execute the plan of getting the large, and by large I mean ‘Giant’ box into my cart. It is right at that point I am awakened out of my deep thoughts by a friendly older man who asks “Are you considering putting that box into ‘that’ cart?” I immediately felt lighter and the two of us shared a light-hearted laugh at my ridiculous plan. Then this very kind gentleman rushed off to get me an empty cart to remedy this situation, despite my very adamant “no that’s okay, I’ll ask someone who works here for help”, to “are you sure?” to “Wow, thank you so much!” Then after our team work of getting the box into the cart, we walked to the extremely long line up, him pushing one cart and me pushing the other.
It was during this time, I learned a bit about him, and how he was newly retired and on his own and from what I could gather he was missing the connection of being around others in the workforce. It was such a brief exchange but it felt so incredible. At the end, we shook hands and I thanked him so much for his kindness and help and he actually thanked me for being a kind person, which really struck me as amazing. It was a heartfelt connection felt by two strangers, me in my own world, who would not in a million years ask a stranger to help me in this situation; and he feeling the impact of a huge life change, would probably not in a million years ask a stranger to take an interest in who he really is. This exchange could have very easily been avoided if I brushed this man off, or if he would have rolled his eyes at the nerve of the crazy lady and her absurd shopping ways.
These heartfelt connections are the kind of moments available to be experienced by everyone, at any given time we are out in the world with others. It really is as simple as sharing a smile, hello or a helping hand. It is about being available and willing to give others the gift of our attention and connection. I am so thankful for the kindness I received that day. Not just because it made my life at that moment much easier; but because it reaffirmed my belief that we are all people worthy of connection. It also reminded me that any act of kindness, whatever the size, is always worth giving.
xo ❤ Emily
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