The Intimacy of a Passing Stranger’s Kindness

It is the history of our kindnesses that alone makes this world tolerable.

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Hello my friend. I wonder how you are doing since we last crossed paths. I’ve always heard the notion that people come and people go as the seasons turn during our journey of life. You’ll never get to hear how much you impacted me. As I look back, my first inclination is to mourn our goodbye that wasn’t really a goodbye. It was more of the dissipation of fog. You are there and then I realize you are not.

I will not mourn our separation; I will celebrate your spirit, wherever it may be now. The closest I can come to letting you know how much you impacted me is to toss my words into the wind and have faith they will kiss you on the forehead. So here is to you, beautiful one!

To the man who mowed my grass in appreciation for the assistance with his elderly parents, how could you know I would be too sick to even walk to my own mailbox that week? Thank you for the act of kindness.

To the hikers that welcomed me into your circle by the warmth of a fire, you told stories and shared your friendship with me on a cold and lonely night. What I did not share with you was that I was ill prepared for this trip with too little water, warm clothes, or experience. I was determined to see myself through this trip alone because I lost a friend the night before when they left me hanging at the time of departure. Thank you for being my protector on the trail.

To the corporate leader that called me after a long and difficult legal dissertation to say, “I am proud of you.” I was sure I had professionally crucified myself standing alone in an ethical decision that turned into a courtroom battle. You right sided my confidence to see it through for all of the right reasons. Thank you for believing in me as a leader.

To the stranger in the hotel lobby that stopped me to say, “You are beautiful when you smile.” You gave me the boost to pull my shoulders back and walk into that presentation and genuinely smile at my audience. I want you to know that random act of kindness catapulted my confidence to be a public speaker.

To the woman that called me to ask if you could rent a room in my house because of a sudden change in your own life circumstances, you became the most valuable friend I had during those six months. Was it really your life we were saving by sharing that time together? I never got to express my gratitude to you for walking into my home and turning it into a peaceful oasis. You pulled me out of the jaw of overwhelming exhaustion after a painful divorce.

The acts of kindness are what connect us as humans. They say we attract our own people by the energy we emit to others. My hope is if I attracted all of your guiding beacons of light to see me through, then this means I can shine just as bright for others that need a guide in their dark days on the trail of life. While I cannot track down each of you to express my gratitude, what I can do is pay it forward with my own acts of kindness.

In the words of Robert Louis Stevenson, “It is the history of our kindnesses that alone makes this world tolerable. If it were not for that, the effect of kind words, kind looks, kind letters…I should be inclined to think our life a practical jest in the worst possible spirit.”

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