Offering kindness through connection
It’s not very often I see police ‘hubbub’ (a bunch of police cars and police-men and -women standing around with police dogs in tow) near me, but the other day it was there. I don’t know what was happening, but there was a bridge nearby and I feared the worst. I had spent that morning thinking about how December and the impending new year offers us an opportunity to slow down a bit, reflect on the year gone by and start turning our attention to how we might like the new year to be. But that sight made me remember that, unfortunately, that’s not all December offers us.
Though this is a month that’s meant to be joyous and peaceful as we celebrate whatever it is that we celebrate with family and/or friends, some people don’t experience that at this time of year. While those of us who are more fortunate are going about giving of ourselves and – probably more so now than ever – from the shops, there are those who find December – and winter in general – to be a very difficult time. Some people have lost loved ones or for some reason cannot be with them. Others may have lost jobs or be struggling financially, so can’t afford to give as much as they’d like to. Some don’t feel like their presence is present enough at this time of year. Others may be at the end of their rope and feel life, especially at this time when everyone is meant to be so happy, is too difficult and sad; they might have lost their hope that things can get better.
So I’m adding my voice, my time and my heart to those others that I’ve been seeing more and more of this time of year; those that speak of understanding that this time of year can be more stressful than restful, more difficult than peaceful, more sad than joyous. While those voices provide me – and hopefully you too – a much needed and consistent reminder that I have so many people to love with whom I genuinely enjoy spending time, they are surely speaking to those who don’t share my good fortune. Some, many even, may find it difficult to be with their people, or any people, for whatever reason. Some, many even, might feel even worse during this time of year that they do not feel ok. So it feels really important to me to work to connect with others during this time, really connect. Wherever they are at – ok, not ok, happy, sad, stressed or calm. We are all connected in some way in this crazy world. So your pain is my pain. If things are not great with you just now, that’s perfectly ok with me. You do not need to pretend to be happy or coping on my account, just because I may be coping right now. I would be happy to hear your truth, to truly connect to you, not the mask of who you think you should be at this time. I will be here to connect with you, and if I ask you how you are, I will wait to hear your truth. I will do this especially with my people but also with anyone else I come into contact with. A burden shared is a burden halved, or so they say. And if you’re doing great, I’d love to hear that too.
So, even while I continue reflecting on the past year, thinking about what I would like for next year and feeling grateful for my life and my people, I will be mindful over the coming weeks to take the time to connect to at least one person each day. Really connect. It may be making eye contact and smiling at someone in a crowded grocery store. It may be asking the bank teller how she is doing today – and really listening to her answer. It may be phoning up or writing a letter to a friend that I’ve been missing or it may be putting down my phone when my husband asks me a question. It may take some work on my part, I may miss opportunities for real connection and maybe not everyone will respond, but that doesn’t really matter. I will just try again to find that connection. I’ll not be changing the world, but I will be offering a kindness. And if that makes a small, positive difference in one person’s day, that will have been enough.