My quote from the Universe yesterday:
“To touch someone with kindness is to change someone forever.
Heavy, huh? That’s nothing.
Because for everyone you touch, you also reach everyone they will ever know. And everyone they will ever know. And everyone they will ever know. And so, for the rest of all time, your kindness will be felt, in waves that will spread, long after you move on.
Before I tell you about my act of kindness, I should tell you how I reacted to being assigned an act of kindness by my writing circle facilitator, knowing that I would then write about it and read it in front of other women. I immediately decided to do a really great act of kindness (one that would really impress you) and write a kick ass recollection of it (one that would really impress you). Yes, such are the ways of my shadow. She seeks to be known by her goodness, her kindness, her competence in all things. That’s how I have come to know her. I can feel her presence as I feel the need to be good, sometimes even the need to be better-than. I am wise enough now to take her hand in mine, make some room for her beside me, and let her be with me a while.
So, in deciding which single random act of kindness to commit this week I found myself replaying in my mind all the memories I have of myself acting out in the world this way before. There was the time when, as just a teenager, riding with my mom, there was an elderly woman struggling to time her crossing at a stoplight downtown. My mom and I exchanged a few panicked looks as we watched her teeter forward and stop a few times in a row as the cross traffic raced by, oblivious. My mom’s command to “Help her, Darci!” coincided with my sliding out of the car. I sidled up alongside the old lady, linked my arm in hers, smiled at her and said, “May I help you cross the street?” to which she replied, “Why yes, honey, thank you.” I’m sure I saved a life that day.
There was the time, just about a year ago, when I saw a mom in the parking lot at Kroger accidentally slam her little girl’s finger in the car door as she was hurriedly trying to get everyone moving in the right direction. The toddler wailed as loud a battered wail as I’ve ever heard, piercing every heart in every audible direction. That mother was crushed. She shrunk down next to her sobbing one and kissed and kissed and kissed that little smashed finger. As I walked by I just paused for a brief moment, long enough to put my hand on that guilty mama’s shoulder and say, “don’t be so hard on yourself…we’ve all done it. You’re a good mama.”
Then there was the time when I cleared my neighbor’s car off after a heavy snow so that when she came out the next morning with her arms full of her new baby, dragging the toddler behind, heading out to her new job (her second job since her boyfriend was now in jail for doing “something stupid”), she wouldn’t have to leave those babies in the cold while she dug out her vehicle.
So I remind myself of how kind I can be and I remember how good it feels to pass on the peace. I also realize how much I really do those things for me, for myself. When I am really true and honest about it, I do kind things because it is the most honest expression of who I am in certain moments. If I do it for any other reason, it is not my authentic self acting, it is my shadow.
So, my act of kindness this week was a simple one, an authentic one. I bought an extra roll of paper towels to take to my aunt. She is raising a litter of Golden Retriever puppies – ten of them – and they are 5 weeks old now. That’s a lot of puppy pee and puppy poop. She loves them. But she is working hard and they are more than a handful. One of them is mine. I already love her with all of my imperfect, broken heart and she’s peeing all over my aunt’s kitchen. I took paper towels.
Darci Hawxhurst for
The Poplar Grove Muse