It is indeed a strange feeling when an unknown person teaches you something that you might have never taken another glance at. And it is twice as strange a feeling when that teaching stays with us for the rest of our life, ingrained into the very existence that we cherish. Something similar once happened to me, and I’ve struggled to carry that little piece of knowledge with me, for it has the potential to impact not only one life, but thousands.
We humans are a strange species. For all our talks of independence and individuality, we tend to depend upon each other rather much. From birth to late adulthood and through the course of our lives, we are taught to adjust, adapt, and thrive in the society that we call home. People surround us constantly (well, most of us) and we never think about most of them twice. Everyone is mostly concerned with things immediately impacting him or her: family, friends, loved ones. Rarely do we think about the strangers that we meet and the impact that we have on those strangers. With billions of people come billions of problems, billions of dreams, and billions of ways to show kindness.
Yes, it is strange indeed that one word that we might utter to someone holds the potential to either have no effect on someone, change his or her life for the worse, or change his or her life for the better. The latter is obviously something that needs to be looked at. One word of kindness might serve as a beacon of hope to someone that we don’t even know. And in this increasingly interconnected world, just one word of kindness from a stranger can do things a whole lifetime of satisfaction cannot.
Going back to my own story, I’ve learned a lot of things in life and continue to do so. But this lesson of kindness was sent to me as a message that we too can change the world, little by little. I was a bit of a loner back when I was in kindergarten, a skill I seem to have not grown out of. I’m usually off working by myself somewhere, something that I don’t really mind. And since I’m alone a lot of the times, I’ve come to appreciate the most important aspects of human connection. I’ve been taught that giving is more important than receiving my entire life, but it doesn’t really make that much sense until it’s truly experienced. So, when the daughter of a mother in a nursing home where I was volunteering thanked me for what I was doing, I was stunned into silence. Here was this lady visiting her mother and she found the time to thank a random volunteer without expecting anything in return. I truly understood the meaning of giving then, because I’d received myself.
I felt amazing that day. I felt like what I was doing counted. My existence mattered on some scale. And just because of a few kind words from a stranger. I’d decided then and there that I’d find every opportunity to be kind to someone whenever I could. From that day on, I began thanking people for things that they were expected to do. I began saying kind words to people who might least expect it. And that’s truly the beauty of kindness. I myself started feeling appreciated. I still remember one of my tennis coaches leaving the school, when I gave her a handwritten card thanking her for everything she’d done for us. I still remember the look of happiness on her face as she realized that what she did for us mattered. Her existence mattered. And that was enough.
And to be honest, I’d attribute this to my understanding of humanity at some level. As I’ve said before, we live and breathe each other. Humanity doesn’t survive without people depending upon each other, without people trusting each other. We, as a race, have survived through the past ages by interdependence. And in this age of people rushing about their days without a second glance at strangers, there is a severe shortage of kindness. Together, we stand as one race- humanity. If we spare some time for kindness to people that might need it or just anyone in general, the world will be much a better place.
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