kindness is an easy claim and an easy call. hold a door open for a couple of people – that’s your kindness quotient for the day. 

but really, it was about 30 seconds; the door was being pushed toward you anyway. and as soon as two or three people went before – enough i suppose to be looked at as kind – but in a very trivial sort of way – you pushed back in line.

that’s what struck me about kindness over the past few days, in particular as the season of festive jocularity and fetid trips through swamps of memories to see people you only see once a year at most comes to an end. 
(hands up everyone who visited relatives they don’t really like, didn’t have much to say and had less in common with – come on, be honest, it’s just you and me and hank).

this is something i imagine we see as kindness. aunt martha’s getting old – who knows when she’ll see us again. so like good little soldiers we trundle off to aunt martha's to eat her frozen strawberry pie that she thinks i love.

when we get back to car after three and a half of remember how true the axiom ‘you can pick your nose, you can pick your friends but you can’t pick your relatives.’

THE KINDNESS QUOTIENT

i have no idea what this, what it should be, what it should measure and how to measure it? i think i’ll have to think about it.

in other words, it just came to mind right now. up until now i have grappling with how to exhibit (yech. . . sounds like a museum), show kindness in a more concrete way than a few coins in a hat. i don’t think i like show, you are or you aren’t kind. doing it for show reminds of those terrible charity balls.

creamy margarine faces and too tight ties for a good cause. that no one quite remembers. if these balls had any balls, they’d invite a few homeless people in for a good meal and maybe a nice dance or two.

kindness should be more an iceberg floating in the ocean – 90% unseen and just a fraction above water. kindness should only speak when spoken to. kindness should be less than we see it to be and more than we think it is.

so the last few days, i’ve dropped coins in some hats and cups. but when someone comes asking for a dollar, i engage that person – or at least try to, some would prefer to loiter away. i talk to them. the first thing i ask is completely naïve but i ask anyway. “what do you want the money for? you going to drink it away?”

some very honestly say i need two bucks for another bottle, some say i need to get some macdonalds (because they can’t be in malls and warm. the mini-police are quick to hustle them out). most act genuinely surprised that they are talked to like a human, not a street pylon.

and a few i had real conversations. about government, about hats, about sleeping outside and how that occupy group doesn’t know anything about being outside. one fellow sat on the corner, with an old typewriter banging away at the letters. i saw he had bag full of pages and asked him what he was writing. he said, oh just things i’m thinking of. 

yeah, i understand that, said goodbye and wandered in to the rest of the day.

maybe he should have written this blog.

 





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