I would have loved it if the answer to all of life’s questions would be just one word.
The answer to every problem, to every doubt, to every time I stand at a fork in the road.
A few years ago, I came pretty close to finding such a word when I stumbled upon the meaning of the word kindness.
Without getting into too many details I can tell you that kindness to me quickly became an all-encompassing word that turned into answers to questions I was looking for, it became that fortress I so badly required to become my place of refuge, it became my religion.
When I was free falling towards a crash and burn landing, it became my wings.
I had to redefine verities I stood by my entire life, but I found myself again through kindness.
When I was at the lowest I have ever been, it was the kindness of my fellow human beings that resurrected me and I knew that this was something I needed to pay forward till the day I perished in my human flesh and bones.
So what did kindness really mean to me?
It meant pausing before you judge someone and label them.
It meant listening to people who need a listening ear.
It meant giving someone the benefit of the doubt.
It meant forgiveness for those who know not what they did.
It meant believing in people and supporting them along their journey even when the road seems filled with tribulations at every turn.
It meant not placing limits on how much you can love because love could flow endlessly if you allow it to.
It meant never giving up on those who need you to stand by and wait in silence.
It meant letting those you love know that they are loved and holding on through the storms raging by them because you may be that beacon of hope they need to see them through to the next day.
It meant thinking about someone more than just yourself and doing whatever LITTLE you can do to make a SMALL difference whenever you can.
It meant looking for beauty wherever you can, and making the most of whatever you can.
It meant letting go of fear, of pain, of hatred and of anger by just being, as you are in your most silent moments, aware that you are a speck, but a significant speck, in the grand scheme of everything there ever was and ever will be.
It was the most simple yet the most powerful truth I had experienced and I knew I had to go all in from the day I realised what it meant. So I did, for months and months that turned into years, I went all in, until I started to realise that I was losing myself in kindness.
A few months ago, I had to pause and admit that I was drained of what I thought was an endless fountain of love. I was on the brink of running dry and everything I gave became painful and difficult. I wasn’t exuding the kind of faith, hope and strength that I thought I had within me to hold someone as life’s jarring bullets careened past their souls. All I was giving were the final drops strained from a heart that was confused, conflicted and yes, human.
I often found myself muttering “I am not this person, this isn’t me” and I hated every moment of it. Inane threads of jealously that I always swore I had not a bone of suddenly cropped up in my very fibre. The harder I tried to stay humble, the more I could feel the pride bubbles unhappily boiling away at my lid, threatening to burst open any moment now. I started to glorify the word ‘busy’, something I always abhorred when others did. I felt immense discomfort in accepting the role of a fellow traveller to those I had played saviour to for so long, and funnily enough I felt worn out and angry at those I had to continue saving.
When I looked at others, I could no longer understand if it was them putting forth facades that I couldn’t break past or if it was my own murky viewing glass that needed to be shattered.
Which was when I decided that I would devote the month of March to reconnecting to the very source that supplemented my whole being. I decided that I would spend the next entire one to thirty-one on my calendar being kind to myself. Effortlessly, boundlessly, religiously.
So I took the last bit of kindness I had saved up for a rainy day and began turning it all inwards.
I refused to reply to texts unless I actually felt like I had something I wanted to say.
I stopped making to-do lists that I stared at for days on end, never satisfied with the number of things I ticked off as it was overshadowed by the n number of things that kept getting added.
I no longer attributed the word caregiver to myself unless I was the recipient of that care.
I said to myself on repeat, no more guilt.
Maybe I would feel insecure and maybe I would feel unhappy but that was just a part of my human. My flawed, raw, crass human.
I stopped okay-ing things I wasn’t really okay with at all.
I stopped thinking of how others would see me and tried to just do whatever came best to me in the moment.
I began to voice my problems, and my disappointments.
On the other hand, I stopped expecting others to listen to my long list of woes, or even hoping they would.
I stopped forcing kindness towards those I couldn’t find it in me to be kind to upon myself as I slowly began to understand that it isn’t something that should ever come from a stream running dry.
Kindness should come from an ocean of love, and if all you are left with is a drop then it is best you save that last drop for yourself. I came upon the real meaning of kindness, and it wasn’t giving away all of yourself.
Kindness is holding on to the best of you and nourishing it abundantly until it blooms within you an authentic desire to do right by others.
And on days you can’t, you just can’t. Kindness is accepting your human, because you ARE human.
Kindness is allowing that human reflection of yours to mirror in the souls of others.
As I journey on looking for my kind, here is hoping you find your kind and maybe our kinds will be the same.