I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Pay the price of continuing offering kindness

Gravestone in local cemetery

Yesterday Melanie and I walked around five miles, starting from Bloedel Donovan Park and then through the Bayview Cemetery near Whatcom Falls Park. Although cool and breezy, the sunshine made it seem warmer than it was. For the first time since I've walked around the area, we spent some time wandering among the headstones. We found this one, with a sweet message that inspires today's post. Jim Garrett has this message to all:

If I leave any legacy, let it be kindness. As a man entitled to little, I was given much. Pay the price of continuing offering kindness. We all need it. —Jim Garrett

I have long felt that truth: if we can be anything, why not be kind? What keeps us from always having empathy for others, since we all suffer just by being born and traveling through life? It got me to thinking, and of course I went online looking to see if this man was famous enough to have a website. He doesn't, but I did find a book entitled, "This Book Will Make You Kinder: An Empathy Handbook," and ordered it from Amazon. It will be here tomorrow, and I should be looking for something to read about that time. I'm engrossed in a very good book right now, Kristin Hannah's latest best seller, The Four Winds. She is a very prolific author and has a formula for most of her books, which makes me hopeful that this historical novel about the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression will have a somewhat positive ending. She sure knows how to paint word pictures that take the reader into the world she creates. 

As I had been thinking about kindness, I noticed many times while reading the book yesterday how the author points out that a simple gesture of kindness to another can make all the difference in someone's life, sometimes for a long time to come. Although Elsa, the protagonist in Hannah's novel, has two children and fought for every scrap of food while living in a migrant camp in California, she shared what she had with others. There is much in the story that reminds me of the severe inequities we face in our world today: some people have so much while others are homeless, wandering the streets without hope. I see them here every single day.

Sometimes I think I need to read stories about real hardships to be reminded of how fortunate I am. Not only do I have a roof over my head and enough food to eat, I also share my life with a wonderful person who takes good care of me in so many ways. As I was suffering through the first few days after having a tooth extraction (no fun at all), he quietly looked after me without being asked, just because. It has now been ten days since the event, and other than having a pretty huge hole in my jaw (which I am told will eventually fill in), I am no longer in pain or needing special care.

I am also curious about what Jim Garrett meant about "paying the price of continuing offering kindness." What is the price? What do I have to give up by being an empathetic person? Hmmm. Perhaps it's that I cannot help but see myself in the suffering of another, and there is plenty of that. We are all human beings sharing the current situation of being in the middle of a viral pandemic, with political and humanitarian ramifications for many of us. When I watch the news these days, I am struck by how many people are suffering from it, India being the current epicenter, and wondering how long it will take for us to emerge from this period and what the long-term effects will be. 

Here in the US, we are slowly coming out from hibernation, and many of us for the first time in over a year are able to share hugs with our friends. Many of us are fully vaccinated now and looking forward to being able to hike and carpool together to some of the more distant hikes in the wilderness. I just learned that the Canadian border will remain closed for the foreseeable future, until Canadians and Americans have reached around 70% of our population being vaccinated. That is not too far away, I suspect, but for now I still cannot visit Canada, just a few miles north of here. Funny how I didn't really care much while I had the choice, but now I feel deprived. 

This year we Senior Trailblazers will gather to celebrate the unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day, by gathering outdoors for our annual potluck in Lake Padden Park, but this time we will not share food but simply bring our own lunch and will gather under the pavilion and talk about the last year's deprivations and opportunities for a better summer this year. Although I didn't have a chance to visit some of my favorite hikes, I was able to get out almost every Thursday with my friend Melanie and sometimes a few others, to enjoy our forests and get some exercise. I do wonder if I still have what it takes to make it to Church Meadow and Excelsior Pass, both more than 3,000 feet in elevation gain and loss. I guess I'll be finding out soon enough; our snowpack in the mountains is finally beginning to recede after a very snowy winter. Usually we make our first forays up the Mt. Baker Highway around Memorial Day or a bit later. We are all looking forward to being able to hike in the wilderness once again.

This afternoon I am scheduled to receive a massage from my usual practitioner, and I am looking forward to it. It's a good thing I get a reminder about it or I would have completely forgotten. These days my memory for events slips more often, and without my calendar to remind me, I'd be forgetting even more of them. The days and weeks seem to fly by, and here we are almost ready for summer! That means my friends in the Southern Hemisphere are preparing for winter. That still astounds me, that it's not simply summer everywhere in the world. My little corner of the world is just that: my little corner, and I need to expand my horizons a bit to be reminded that we are not all getting ready for hot days and warm nights. In Canberra, for example, my blogging friend there will be eventually blowing bubbles, letting them freeze, and sharing them on her blog. I look forward to it every year.

Well, I guess I've wandered around in my mental corridors long enough and need to start thinking about the rest of my day. It's cloudy today, with rain in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow, so I am again really happy that I had such a wonderful walk yesterday in the sunshine. I will finish Hannah's book today and spend some time in my vegetable garden making sure the weeds don't take over. I always look forward to hearing how my dear readers are faring in the world, and I also enjoy reading several blogs to see what's going on in your lives. My dear partner still sleeps next to me, my tea is gone, and the day beckons. I do hope that whatever you do today, you will take the time to spread a little kindness, and pay the price along with me for continuing offering kindness. Be well until we meet again next week.


gigi-hawaii said...

It is awesome that the migrant, who has so little, is more than willing to share her food with other migrants. It really is so touching. God bless.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Sometimes it is the little kind things...like my Grandsons opening a door for me. I appreciate all the kind things people do for me. A little kindness goes a long way.
The "special" young man with learning disabilities that comes racing across the parking lot to bring me my groceries every Thursday...he unloads my groceries and asks how I have been...I take the invoice and hand him a tip and he says "God Bless you" and races back to the store...I think that may be mutual kindness...and maybe "WE" as a people just need to be mutually kind.

I know for a fact that some people chose being homeless...and are happy... I do not begin to understand it.

Some people are just evil...and demanding...I don't understand that either.


Linda Reeder said...

As I walked out to get the newspaper this morning, a heavy drizzle was falling. It made borrowed cat Charlie's fur all wet and not fun to stroke as he followed me to the street and sat patiently as I crossed the street to get the paper out of the paper box. When we got back to the house, Charlie got his treat, a hand full of cat kibble in his special yellow bowl. Charlie and I are kind to each other.
Yesterday we went garden touring and then hosted our garden club for a bring your own lunch on the patio, It was still cold and cloudy and while I made them all eat outside, we had hot coffee and tea ready to go, and a freshly baked rhubarb cake with whipped cream. As the sun came out and I lead a tour of our garden after lunch, everyone was happy and no one was in a hurry to leave. It felt good to do something special for others. This was the first time we had met face to face in a year and a half.
Today we are going to the stadium to see a Sounders match in person. We will sit in the vaccinated only section. I will be using my walking stick to get around more easily. I do expect others will show me kindness in respecting my space and deferring to me as I navigate. I will be very appreciative, and let them know. Kindness can be a simple thing.
Have a great day, dear kind friend.

Elephant's Child said...

Empathy is a double edged sword and can be painful. However, without it we cannot walk the proverbial mile in some one else's shoes. I firmly believe that kindness is a life changing essential - to give and to receive. And thank you for your kindness in saying that you enjoy my freezing bubbles. It is not yet cold enough but soon I hope. And I will assuredly post photos of the fun I have.

ApacheDug said...

DJan I hope it's alright that I downloaded that image of Jim Garrett's headstone. I very much liked that inscription, and wanted to keep a reminder of it on my desktop. The past week or so, I got caught up in these various videos on Youtube, 'The Voices of North Korea' and while most of us know the oppression these poor people are forced to live with... it's overwhelming when I try to picture myself in their place. That headstone (and these videos) "ease" the grumblings in my brain about things out of my control. I'm also curious about that book on kindness you ordered, I hope you share your thoughts about it sometime. Anyway, I'm glad your tooth extraction has been healing without incident, and it's good to hear you have things you're looking forward to as summer arrives. I need to think more like you!

Rian said...

You know DJan, I think this pandemic has made us all think more about kindness. I've often thought that if one doesn't know what to do, just be kind. IMO it's almost always the right thing to do.
Wish there was a way to make it work in the world of politics.

Gigi said...

When I am out in the world - or even just online - I try to remember that I do not know what that person may be shouldering and try to be kind and offer grace. I also like to think that many others act the same way. Not all, obviously because those are the ones that call to our attention.

I'm so glad you are past the worst of the extraction!

Have a wonderful week!

William Kendall said...

Very well said.

Marie Smith said...

I always enjoy your adventures with the Trail blazers, Jan. Enjoy the get together. Before long you will be back in the high mountains again.

I always stress to the grandkids about being kid. Then they asked if we should always be kind, why is there war. It was an interesting conversation. Kindness makes the world so much more pleasant. For everyone.

Red said...

A little kindness goes a long way. It's always be kind to others but when you are kind it does you as much good ad the others.

Betsy said...

I fail often but I do try to be kind to those I meet. A gruff person in the drive-thru at McDonalds who takes my order. When I pay, I try to be extra cheerful and comment on the sunshine, or her fingernails,(which are beautifully done). It never fails to bring a smile to her face. When I say God Bless Your Day to her, she always tells me the same. Sometimes it's just a reminder to the other person that things aren't quite that bad. So many are crabby these days that it's sad.

Glenda Beall said...

I ordered the same book you are reading and I'm listening to it on Audible tonight. I think it is going to be a good one.
Like you, I try to practice caring and listening to those who are not as fortunate as I am. I see others like the woman who walks a long way to get to the grocery store in our town. She carries them home in a big bag hung over her shoulder. My heart goes out to her and I put myself in her place and feel her pain. Being empathetic can be painful as we often feel the hurting of others, but it makes us better people, I think. It keeps us from being self-centered and oblivious to the harships of others. I hope when I am gone from this world that those who know me will remember me as one who cares for others and who gives a hand when she can. That is all I can do now. Sometimes all we need to do is see those who need recognition that they are here. So glad you are going out and hiking and glad your tooth problem is better. And I am glad you have your partner to take care of you and be there for you. I miss having that in my life.

Arkansas Patti said...

I never thought of kindness having a price for I have always just enjoyed the reward. But I guess when we do an act of kindness, we do for a bit absorb some of the pain of the receiver. For me a very minor price that the act of kindness soothes.
My favorite tee shirt says Humankind be both.
Hope you take it easy on your next hikes and realize it may take a while to get back in shape for the longer hauls.

Anvilcloud said...

Isn't it wonderful that you and the trailblazers can get together for your annual luncheon albeit somewhat modified? It's the little things.

Rita said...

I was puzzled by what the price was, too. Whatever it is--well worth it. :)
So nice you and the Trailblazers are back together again!

Dee said...

Dear DJan, I just read all the comments on your latest postings. Nearly everyone considered what the "price" of kindness is or may be. I so hope that you will share your thoughts about that with us. You often, it seems to me, get to the nub or the essence of a question. Your words often, too, seem to provide the final puzzle piece that makes a mystery clear. That's a gift you have. I wonder if you've always had that gift/talent or if it's come to you from going down deep into the center of yourself where I've always thought we can find the meaning of peace. And surely, kindness and peace have a connection. I'm going to order that book (if I can get it as an e-book for easier reading). I'd like to read about the threads of kindness and empathy that weave themselves into a great gratitude for living. Thank you, DJan, for being so open and honest with your thoughts. You touch so many of us with your words and your own kindness. Peace.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, I go back and forth on which is better ... to comment on Sunday, the day you post, or wait till later in the week to read all the comments. Today, Saturday, May 29, I am glad I waited. :-) The comment that Dee left is just perfect and I share her thoughts about you. I think she did a better job of putting it into words than I could have. I think I will close with a quote from her comment ... "Thank you, DJan, for being so open and honest with your thoughts. You touch so many of us with your words and your own kindness. Peace." To you and SG ... Have a happy Memorial Day weekend! John