“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” ― Mark Twain
You push and I’ll pull. It was a lot of work, but we moved the large desk up the stairs and over the threshold.
I rarely will ask for help, especially when moving furniture, but twice I have had to put out a call. Once, I moved a baby grand piano through a narrow hallway and the second time, I moved a wooden military desk up a flight of stairs. Both times, I tried the moves on my own until I finally recognized that I needed help. In both cases, I was worn out.
When you are someone who enjoys being the helper, it is difficult to ask for help. I’ll sit here for a minute while you look at someone and say, “That’s exactly how you are!” OK, now that your back, what I’m really talking about is kindness. Oh, to understand Twain’s words — kindness is a language all of its own. Unlike the double talk my mother and cousins mastered, kindness is a language you and I can speak and understand no matter our circumstances.
When I was a little girl, I remember my mother teaching me how to skip a rock on the water. It isn’t her fault I didn’t master the skip, and I probably should have worked on that before having my own children, but I do remember how magical it was. Each time the rock hit the water, another ripple went out, and I was amazed at how far one rock’s ripples could travel.
That rock, for me, is like a person’s kindness. The ripples Aunt created when skipping her rock of kindness touched a lot of people, and the business seems to be skipping their own rock in return.
Yes, kindness is contagious. When you watch it or when you receive it, you almost always want to emulate it because it makes you feel so good. Science makes it clear that kindness is a winning choice. From improving heart health to lifting depression, no matter what side you are on, being a part of kindness can change lives.
The call came from our aunt recently that she had gone to the hospital by ambulance. We spent a couple of days talking to her and then to the doctor and nurse. It was clear that one of us needed to be with her. I booked the flight, and had no idea what the next week or two might entail. That’s what happens when you love people. You make the effort to do things that you know might bring joy to their life or make their life easier. You create some ripples, I suppose.
I should tell you, Aunt is a giver, and a few years ago, she had to adjust what she was doing for others when she lost her ability to drive — in fairness, she chose to give up driving. She still walks a lot of places so she can do for the people who live near her, but the one place she loves is not within walking distance these days, and it has been a great loss to have to stop her visits.
It’s called The Whistle Stop. It’s a cute little drive-thru coffee shop in Spokane Valley, and it has been on her radar for many years. In fact, when the original owner died, Aunt dug in even more deeply to be sure she was supporting it. Until a few years ago, when she gave up driving, she did a lot for that shop. She would buy straws, lollipops, dog treats — anything she thought they needed, and she’d leave it at their door in hopes of making their day a little more pleasant. A note about the givers of the world, some are not the best at receiving, so you should be prepared to have your offer to help be shot down a few times.
Reaching out to the coffee shop owner a few months ago to see if they might deliver a drink to her now and then, they jumped at the opportunity. They had been trying to do that for a long time, but she had refused to let them. Since they began surprising her with an occasional treat, it has brought her great joy to be on the receiving end of such kindness. and for me, as the witness, science says that I am benefiting just from watching the kindness take place. It’s a win-win.
Kindness counts. Even though you think you’re helping someone else, your kindness benefits your own health. Allowing someone else to show you a kindness benefits both people, too. It takes a little humility to give in to letting someone help you, and it seems the psychological rewards are equally great.
Maybe you have a favorite place to do business. Do you see something you could do to make life a little more pleasant for them? Maybe you are a business who has an opportunity to love on a customer who has been loyal to you for many years. It will be a while before I’ll be able to pick up a Mocha with three pumps of chocolate, whipped cream, and a big straw for my Aunt, so it’s especially nice to know there are people who will stand in the gap during my absence.
I’ll be paying attention to the people and places where I live and thinking of ways to add some kindness to their days. After all, kindness is a language we all speak, no translation necessary. And the next time I’m in Spokane Valley, Wash., you better believe I’ll stop in for coffee at The Whistle Stop. Skip a rock, make some ripples in the world, and spread a little kindness.
Susan Black Steen is a writer and photographer, a native Tennessean and a graduate of Austin Peay State University. With a firm belief that words matter, she writes and speaks to bring joy, comfort and understanding into each life. Always, she writes from her heart in hopes of speaking to the hearts of others.