In a World Where You Can Be Anything, Be Kind
There I was, 9:42 pm, in a random Wal Mart somewhere outside of Washington, D.C. We pulled Ruby, our 34.6" long RV, into the parking lot for the night a little bit ago. I snuggled the kids & we talked about what we did that was brave & kind that day, and also what we could've done better.
On this particular day, we had spent 9 hours riding roller coasters & eating really crappy food at Six Flags America. So the kids told me bravery for them that day was riding the Batwing where you're literally strapped in and flying all around like a bat...yes, you're looking straight down at the ground (imagine what it would be like to fly like a bat and you get the idea). It was pretty terrifying so we road it twice. Except Lia, she's not quite into the coasters.
But that's all filler details. Earlier that morning, when I had just woke up, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and saw a beautiful picture with the words 'In a world where you can be anything, be kind.' That simple phrase is pretty powerful when you think about it. Because we can be anything we want to be in this world. Why not choose to be kind?
I told myself I was going to make that my mantra for a bit and see what happens. So I focused on walking around with a smile on my face. I gave out a few fist bumps and hi fives when the opportunity came. I struck up conversations with the people who were working at Six Flags. You know they're so used to just being told what people want so when I asked them how their day was going it always caught them off guard. I made sure when they answered with a 'Fine' I would answer with something along the lines of I hope they find something that makes their soul come alive today or asked them what they dream of doing with their life.
Because I've learned it really is the moments where I've been seen, acknowledged or valued that matter the most. They don't have to be life changing big moments, but we all want to be noticed. We want to feel like what's important to each of us has a space in the world. But how many times are we caught in situations where it feels like we're ghosts drifting along with no purpose. I like to think the simple act of being friendly & showing an interest in another human can make a difference in their life.
Which brings me to shopping at Wal Mart at 9:42. I carried my new mantra with me into the store. I grabbed a shopping cart and walked around the store slowly as I didn't know where anything was and I was pretty worn out. As I weaved up and down the aisles grabbing the boxes of cereal and milk and bananas I needed, I made it a point to smile at the shoppers & workers both. I said hello and excuse me whenever I got close enough. I kept a smile on my face, because after spending the whole day riding rides I never thought were possible at speeds and drops that frankly terrify me I was in a pretty darn good mood.
Here's the deal, though. Not one person even acknowledged me. I got 0 hello's back. I got eye rolls. I got the cold shoulder. I felt ignored. I felt like I wasn't even there. I felt like a ghost. But I realized those folks had bigger problems on their minds. Maybe they just got off from a long day of work. Maybe they got in a fight with their spouse. Maybe they were worried about paying their bills. Who knows, really. I decided just because others didn't respond with kindness to my kindness doesn't mean I should give up. Because in my world, I can be anything...and being kind is important to me.
Throughout the next few days I kept striking up conversations with people. I kept smiling. I kept kindness at the front of my mind. I held doors open for others. I learned that people in Washington D.C. are friendly, especially around the metro stations when they can clearly see a lost traveler. I learned that the girls working the elevators at the Smithsonian museums rarely get acknowledged except for what floor people want to get off at. Most importantly, I learned that sometimes small acts of unexpected kindness might not change the world, but it just might change someone's day. And if I can change the course of a few people's day, every day, then isn't that a way to make the world a better place?
I'd love it if you would join me in being kind to each other. There's a lot of negativity and hate out there. There's a lot of fear being spread. There's a lot of confusion and arguing and yelling. And we've all got problems of our own. So let's focus on being kind for a while. Being kind doesn't have to cost you any money, or even a lot of time. Just smile and acknowledge someone. Hold the door open. Strike up conversations by asking interesting questions. Just imagine what our world could be if we all took the time to be kind more often.
Note: I can't find the original author of the saying, and I did try pretty hard. Either way, I decided to write it out for myself, so this design will be on an upcoming card and is available on lots of other stuff at my Threadless shop here.