Wednesday, April 17, 2013
I've been traveling extensively lately and have not taken the time to post stories with the regularity I had hoped (a luxury I'm granting myself after "officially" completing my challenge on the last day of 2012!). However, the events surrounding Monday's tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon have really compelled me to reflect and I wanted to share some of those thoughts here.
When I wrote my year-end summary on January 1st, I listed five key lessons I learned from my year of kindness. One of the most significant of these lessons was that there is much more kindness in the world than we think. My experience was that the world was filled with amazing acts of kindness but that their stories were not told as frequently as were the stories of crime, evil, and tragedy. The disproportionate amount of airtime that negative stories get can cause us to have a distorted view of how most people really are. So how do I make sense of this week's events in light of my observation about human nature?
For me, the aftermath of the marathon was, and continues to be, a shining example of exactly what I had concluded. While many will point to this senseless tragedy and wonder what's wrong with our world, I am as heartened by the incredible stories of compassion in the bomb's aftermath as I am heartbroken by the tragedy itself.
For a variety of reasons, this event impacted me in a more personal way than many of the horrible things you see or read about in the news. It might be because of my role as a part of the running community, and a previous Boston marathon competitor myself, or maybe because I had friends who were there, but it really hit me hard. I was returning to my hotel in Florida, listening to the details on the news, and I literally sat in the parking lot and wept. (This is pretty rare for me).
And yet, within hours I was hearing so many stories of caring and compassion shown by emergency workers, healthcare professionals, race officials, fellow athletes, spectators, local residents, and more. There was an overwhelming display of generosity on the part of so many people, eager to do whatever they could to assist and care for those in need. While I don't have the words to describe or understand why some crazy individual would hurt so many innocent people, it was likely one person (it now appears). Balance that against the thousands and thousands of people in Boston and around the country who are showing solidarity in their kindness, and it only reaffirms for me the notion that there is far more kindness in the world than we often recognize.
Beyond the exceptional events that follow tragedies like this week, I continue to see lots of examples of kindness that people all around me show to each other every single day. It's all around us, if we're looking for it.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
I was coming home from Orlando yesterday and as I navigated my way through the Orlando airport I overheard a young family trying to figure out how to get to the gate from which their plane was departing. Since I knew the answer to their question, I spoke up and explained the directions to them.
This is one of those very simple things that I might have ignored in the past. While it's true that I overheard their conversation, and it's also true that I knew the information about which they were confused, it would have been just as easy to stay inside my own little "bubble", rather than offering to help. Since I tend to be a more cerebral person anyway, my natural inclination is to be on my own path, in my own world, and not to break outside of it for strangers. In fact, this is one of the tendencies or habits I wanted to work on changing through the 369 consecutive days of kindness last year. I wanted to learn to extend myself more, especially to strangers, and to find ways to spread more kindness. Hopefully yesterday's small act was an indication that I'm making those changes.