Author: G. Jefferies
Week four ends as rapidly as it’s predecessor leaving me once more convinced time is, indeed, not quite so linear as certain physicists would have me believe. A topic I preambled in The Habituation Loop last week. No need to re-ponder, but instead move swiftly into this weeks random acts of kindness courtesy of my good blogging friend Niki Lopez.
Spontaneous acts of kindness, the random sort alluded to by God, AKA Morgan Freeman, in Evan Almighty. If you’ve not seen this movie you should. It’s on topic, as is the sequel Bruce Almighty, and rich in dialogue well suited to quotations that may, or may not appear later…queried at this point in the same way each challenge commences with a blank page and no idea where things might lead. This could become a signature opener. Best take mindfulness onboard and rectify this post haste (pun intended).
This weeks considerations included the following;
- Make eye contact and greet people around you.
- Hold the door for the person entering behind you.
- Compliment 5 people.
- Say “please” and “thank you” often.
- Be a listening ear for someone, listening in earnest and not just to reply.
- Give someone a handwritten note letting them know you appreciate them.
- Volunteer a couple of hours of your time to a cause you care about.
All neatly lifted off Niki’s post in….hope you don’t mind. Personally plagiarism is not my bag, but I feel for the purposes of this treatise then the bullet points above will assist in developing the mental processes.
Considering the points above, MLK Jr. makes a sound observation. In fact many things, such as please or thank you or holding a door open, are fundamental to the word polite. They are courtesies, or should be; like helping someone vertically challenged reach something on the top of a shelf in a supermarket. These are legion; stuck in a traffic jam and letting the poor soul trying to escape a side road in front of you. Doesn’t really add anything to your journey and I will wager it makes the ordeal of the side road user less vacuous, empty and annoying. How about taking in a parcel delivery for a neighbour who is out, or house watching when they are on holiday? Ever tried saying good morning to a stranger passing you in the street? You may get a disbelieving and perplexed look, but invariably there will be a similar response and a smile…mostly…time and place for that one. I find mornings elicits more engagement; later, and oddly in towns, the look returned is more a case of unexpected nutter. There may be a social experiment looming…
My point here is courtesy kindness. I’ve said it several times previously, courtesy costs nothing at all, cliched I know. Are these things a kindness? Of course they are. Not only that but for the unmindful they can and fall into the habituation loop…taken for granted and no longer registering as being kind at all.
Going back to the volunteering a few hours of time…did anyone notice in the examples above? That’s exactly what you do in being courteous…house watching or taking in a parcel. Being aware of neighbours that are elderly or alone. Drop in for a chat or coffee, maybe offer to pick up something next time you go out shopping. It’s not that hard a concept to grasp and it slows down the rush the modern world seems to insist we ride on. Moreover elderly isn’t exclusive, we all get there sooner or later. Build up the kindness; a kid now might see you helping their grandparent and think that’s so cool. Might be they revisit that when you or someone else needs a favour when they’ve grown up. Reap what you sow kind of thing…fail to water the seeds and barren ground you will have. Did I mention it’s free?
OK, so what do I do in all of this? I’ve currently got someone else’s parcel for a neighbour who’s away. Next door are an elderly couple that travel a good deal. I house watch and often go in to clear mail from the door and just check things are as they should be, water plants and feed their fish. Do I do this because they are older? No, I’ve done it for years. They live next door so why wouldn’t I?
I was brought up with please and thank you, but chose not to rebel at that but apply it. Buying a pint, coffee or shopping it’s not hard really.
Cars have been my bugbear; the poor soul trying to escape a side road onto a commuter route. Not often I get let in but that makes me more appreciative of others caught in the same miasma. 90% of people I let in wave back in acknowledgement. Some are like old friends now. Metal box mates that nod as a gap is made to allow them to filter in. Paths never crossing outside of a machine, but each kindness provides a moment where giver and receiver are linked in mutual appreciation of another road user.
I often talk about mindfulness, being in the moment and not abstracted in default automaton flowing through time and not being self aware. What does self aware actually mean? Think of the car driver or person a few steps behind as you open the door. Do you actually register their existence or just flow along in a self contained world? The latter is being unmindful. Most folk don’t realise this. However, if you are then you will be aware in both situations…the door will be held open for the person behind and not left to shut. Why? Because you will actually know they are there. Do it and watch a total stranger say ‘thank you’ and then observe them check nobody is behind them before letting it go. That’s the kindness ripple effect. They may or may it have done that before, but because you did it for them in that moment, most will automatically repeat it. Might even remember and take that with them into the future…a kindness watered as it were.
So, now we come to the listening and handwritten note. I’ve chosen to warp this part into blogging. I try hard to comment on other people posts as often as time allows. Sometimes the time enemy prevents this, but when I do they constitute the equivalent of a hand written note because it’s a two way investment of time (not the enemy in this context). A blogger invests time in the wordmongering, a reader such as myself invests time in reading them and when time is good, moving from a like into a comment. I try to put time into choosing what to say, hold several exchanges on other blogs and, hopefully make the blogger smile at least once now and then. If someone ‘feels’ down I will share words of support, if I can help answer a question then I will and in this we have a return on the kindness. My comments on this blog are proof of engagements returned. It always makes me smile to see all the people that a few months ago I never knew existed turn into friends, not just bloggers, but friends. Several have linked up personal profiles (not just pages) on Facebook, more on Twitter and a few on the strange medium of Google Plus…although it has to be said I’m even newer on the latter two than here. I know not how they work.
Yesterday the blogosphere returned a token of this appreciation…kindness returned as it were.
Granted, to all of you lovely people with huge followings this may seem small; but for me, blogging since January this year, it’s a reflection of the kindness ‘reward’ for those hand written messages and listening.
In conclusion then…if you think ‘What kindness have I exercised this week?’ ask yourself a second question. ‘What have I done automatically that is no longer registering as a kindness in my mind?’ The Habituation Loop considered kindness taken for granted by others; this one considers the possibility that we, ourselves, may have neglected that courtesy is indeed a kindness.
Or, put another way…to see if attention was paid at the start…
“God: How do we change the world?
Evan Baxter: One single act of random kindness at a time.”
And so ends week four’s contribution, insight even, into my take on reality. I trust it almost makes sense in places too.
Have a good week all and I’m not even going to ask who knows this quote because, well, given my previous…oops no more spoliers…what book?
Well, now that we have seen each other,' said the Unicorn,if you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you. Is that a bargain?”
© G Jefferies and Fictionisfood, 2016. All rights reserved.