It’s entirely to easy to be braggadocios when an opportunity to play up a “good” trait is presented so instead, I’ll write to you a bit about how I learned to be kind.
My Mother left for a New York and I was sent to stay with my Grandmother (very typical scenario in West Indian families) who, taught me how to better relate to people. My Mom was a single Mom and a full house in Guyana was Disney Land in comparison to the one bedroom flat we occupied in Trinidad.
The Theory of Kindness was taught by my Mother but my experiences in Guyana were the “lab”. This is part of the reason why I don’t have “only child syndrome” and get very upset when I feel the judgement in most people’s stares when I tell them I was the only child. (For my Mother, long story)
At first my cousins didn’t live with us but I did go to Primary School within walking distance and we would all come home for our one hour lunch recess; my lessons in kindness started then. When my Grandmother ensured that at least 4-6 of her Grandchildren were fed every day at Lunch. As I was the only cousin who lived with her at the time, she taught me how to be helpful to her as a member of the household but also how to fit in with my cousins while sharing a meal.
Those lessons expanded when I just took time out to bear witness to the type of woman my Grandmother was. There was almost always someone visiting, about to visit or just got done visitin with us. There was never any time limit. Never any need for advanced warning. My Grandmother was always ready to be an immaculate hostess and offered her home to Family, Friends, Family Friends and even strangers after she had my Grandfather vet them.
Like most West Indian Grandmother’s; huge emphasis was placed in the love of feeding someone, making sure they were taken care of, comfortable and welcome. Her openess to share her home and her family while still being known as a tenacious and effective woman was something I’ve only dreamed I could become.
She taught me at an early age that we were humans. I never forget the day she sat me down after I was sad, after the pep talk…she ventured off to a topic we never had before. She asked me if I was feeling better….if I wanted to ponder something new since I was “becoming a big girl”. Of course, I couldn’t turn down any new knowledge, so I wiped the remaining of my tears away and turned toward her. She then told me to remember how I felt and then think of everyone that I’ve ever known, seen, thought of…that everyone that I’d ever come into contact with has had emotions just as heavy and important as the ones I just had.
I remember being taken aback by the concept; I must have been 9 or 10 at the time but I allowed myself to be enveloped in a huge hug as she sent me off to bed.
I was up most of the night thinking about it.
It was one of the most pivotal moments in my life.
And from then, I’ve always been more empathetic, even to the point of self destruction at times but it was a great lesson. One I’d never forget. I urge you to think about others as you would think about yourself; and yes, that’s cliche but most of the people who are alive; at the time that you’re alive…experience all the devastation, love, pain and happiness that we have, many of them in worse / better ways. We have a responsibility to each other to at least acknowledge that we are all human.