You are only human.
As I write this I am thirty-seven thousand feet in the air on my way to Mexico with my kids for spring break. We boarded, took off, I watched a movie with the kids, and then pulled out my Mac to write. I opened a Word document but a blank page stared at me for quite a while. THIS IS IT I thought, I am out of words. GEEEEEEEEZ that happened faster than I thought it would. Because of course that’s a fear of mine, that my thoughts will dry up and this blog will be over before it even started.
So… I closed my fancy little computer and scrolled through the movies once again. I bypassed the new releases and found one of my old favorites, “The Blind Side.” Twenty minutes in, tears fell down my cheeks as the story of Michael Oher started to unfold. If this movie has slipped by you, do yourself a favor and take two hours to have your faith in humanity restored. I opened my word doc again and here I sit between my two little loves with a full heart and more words.
I stopped watching national news several years. My heart couldn’t take it. Our world is hard to take some days. The hate, the fear, the uncertainty at levels big and small can be overwhelming. I am by no means sticking my head in the sand as I have always been a realist. I worked in an ER for close to a decade where I saw the best and worst in people. More often the worst. I became hard there and jaded and pessimistic. When I left, I was also leaving a marriage that had landed me in a terrible head space, so I made a decision to pivot from the negative. I didn’t think about it that way at the time, but shutting off the news was part of helping my heart heal.
Now my heart has mended, more than mended…I find myself smiling and content so often that it’s hard to remember what broken felt like. I think back to that time so often, not in regret because I believe regret is for the broken hearted. I look back more in reflection and in curiosity. What was missing in my marriage was something so simple, yet in the grind of life something that can feel so hard. That small (but HUGE) thing was humanity… kindness, compassion, courtesy even.
We see acts of humanity big and small everyday if we care to look. In the story of Michael Oher, an instinctive move to take in a homeless teenager is an act of humanity so seemingly significant a book and movie were created about it. It’s a phenomenal story. My guess is that there are families around the world that help other humans in this way, providing food, clothes, a bed. Like Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, I believe good people demonstrate this humanity because they are kindhearted and not for charity or recognition. I believe there truly are gracious humans in this world and their examples certainly inspire my daily life.
Which brings me to those small acts of humanity that so often go overlooked. Helping an elderly person or mother with no extra hands hold a door, reaching out to a friend going through a difficult time even when you don’t know what to say, or simply complimenting your significant other when they look nice. These are such simple acts that remind the doer and the recipient that we are all in this life together. At times, we may not even see our action as meaningful, but know that they are.
I remember a shift working in the ER that was especially tragic because the patient was so young and so sick. Her mother had no support, no phone, no money. Her child was being sent by helicopter to a larger care facility with more resources, and I did the only thing I could think of to help her go be with her daughter. I ran for my purse and pulled out all the cash I had, I think it was maybe only $40. I gave it to her without thinking really. She was speechless, but I was in a rush to get her daughter out the door and to give report to the flight nurse. They were on their way out the door when the patient’s mother stopped and ran back to me. She was sobbing and said, “thank you so much for helping me, I will never forget.” My forty dollars, which likely would’ve been spent on a tank of gas or a bag of groceries, meant so much more to that mother than it ever would have meant to me. And her words will forever remind me that kindness is not forgotten.
I have been on the receiving end of such kindness as well. I remember a hot 4th of July when my car broke down and a nice couple picked up my mom, a toddler, and a pregnant me on the side of the road and drove us a half hour out of their way so we could get home. Or the day an unknown nurse practitioner, that I now call my friend, replied to a cold call about helping me obtain the clinical hours I needed for my master’s degree. I think back also to my amazing divorce attorney who would bill me, and I would see a list of emails with a big $0 next to them because she knew I was in grad school trying to get by and putting everything on a credit card.
These demonstrations of humanity are what have urged me to turn the news back on again. They are why I get so emotional on an airplane watching a movie. They are the reason for happy tears in a Mexican taxi cab with my little people, reflecting on how far I’ve come and what I’ve show them along the way. Practice this kindness friends, this life of simply being a neighbor.
I know this comes easier for some than others. Go to the slideshow below, choose a small act of kindness, email me at email@example.com and tell me how giving something to someone allowed for your own take away.