I don’t always remember to be kind. Sometimes I am on a treadmill, my brain too full to notice the wonderful things around me. Sometimes the compassion needed to express kindness is hidden under a block of busyness and is not easy to access. Worry, problems, time constraints, selfishness, not being in the moment; all bury kindness somewhere inside me.
Then I saw it and remembered. I was contemplating an orchid outside a Florist Shop. The abundant pot of pink orchards in full bloom drew me into the shop. My heart opened as I inhaled the colours of the flowers around me: yellows, pinks, blues, oranges, reds and every conceivable shade of green. Catching my breath, I said to the florist, ‘I love the orchards in the window.’
‘Yes, came in from the grower this morning,’ she replied.
‘I have to have them but I’ll need someone to help me carry it to my car, my shoulder is injured.’
‘It would be my pleasure,’ she said as we attended to the payment.
She looked up from the machine and asked, ‘Where does your shoulder hurt?’ She listened, really listened, the kind of listening that was not hurried, opinionated or wanting me to stop. And I knew I was in the company of a Master: A kind listener.
Kindness for me is when I allow myself to notice everything. Notice the person behind the counter and allow myself to be fully engaged with them. Or when a stranger has their hands full, to I open the door and let them through first. Remembering to smile as I walk along the street; taking the time to talk with kindness along the way. The way I talk with my grandchildren, that kind of kindness. I notice that when I am kind to others, I become a kinder person to myself.
One day I found it on the top a mountain. The sun was high in the sky; the sky clear blue, the air crystal clean. So blue I had to wear sunglasses to cut the glare. The café at the top of the mountain was busy. The waiter walked toward me, his hands outstretched and turned up in a welcoming gesture. My reaction was automatic; I placed my hands in his and he led me to a table with a view overlooking the bay. I breathed in the view, endless mountains spread out from inlet to inlet.
‘You sit here I’ll get you some water,’ he said and pulled the chair out for me to sit.
I smiled, ‘And some tea please, Earl Grey.’
‘OK,’ and he was gone.
Within minutes the water was placed in front of me and the tea was not far behind.
The day was seducing me with its exquisiteness.
My husband joined me and looked around with the same wonder, he too sucked in the surroundings like a chocolate milkshake. We sat in amicable silence until the seafood soup arrived. We decide to share and broke the crusty bread roll into bite-size pieces and dropped them in the stock. We ate ravenously, each taking turns, spoonful for spoonful. Our Pinot arrived and we gulped is down, big mouthfuls tasting of cold climate grapes.
Clouds covered the sun for a moment, reminding us we had a bushwalk to do before the coolness of the afternoon touched our bones. We stood up and walked inside to pay our bill.
As my husband walked back out into the sun, the waiter who had earlier greeted me, asked me if I played the piano, and with that he sat at the upright in the corner and played Moonlight Sonata, my favorite piece. Beethoven’s melody filled the room and I was transfixed by his gentle touch on the keys.
The waiter finished and stood up, grinning self-consciously.
‘Thank you,’ I smiled and slowly walked from the room. The kindness and delivery of his gesture left me stunned.
‘Where were you?’ my husband asked.
‘In heaven,’ I said.
Kindness is a great place to visit, but as the waiter reminded me, an excellent place to live.