Have you heard the quote--if you could be anything, be kind? Or, the Maya Angelou quote roughly translated--about how people might forget what you said or did, but they will always remember how you made them feel? This sentiment is jumping at me all day today as I am fighting jet lag and woke up at 4:30AM and tried watching tv, only to discover the latest news in Maine, more loss of life.
Because Lou has a job that sometimes involves travel, I have the good fortune to sometimes go along at the tale end of the trip. This is what happened last week, for the first time since covid times. It also happens to be almost six whole months since I had surgery on my knee, reattaching the meniscus. Yes, it is still a "thing" to be dealt with. Healing takes time. Knowing how much walking, steps and urban trekking on cobble stones would be involved on my trip, I was told by my physical therapist to bring one of my crutches. Using a crutch usually broadcasts to people--stay away--I've got a problem ambulating--give me room. It sometimes even invites kindness.
Truth be told, I've had a love/hate relationship with my crutches because I had to use them for so long, as in six weeks of no weight bearing, as in the time I fell down the stairs in the middle of the night and got a concussion and bruises all over the place. So, taking my crutch on this trip was not what I was hoping for. But wait, that crutch did allow me to get up some really steep hills that were slick with rain. (NO FALLING) That crutch did enable me to signal a cab driver to get us to the train station to catch the bus by ONE MINUTE to the airport hotel. And, that crutch brought out the kindness of a stranger in the Milan airport. Those Italians were very accommodating to me. They repeatedly asked if I needed assistance upon seeing my crutch. They put me at the head of the line to get through security (MAJOR BONUS). And this is what I can't get out of my mind--the security agent asked if my crutch could go through the metal detector, and so it did. He then ceremoniously offered me his arm, like he was walking me down an aisle. So gentlemanly and so kind and so unexpected! It was such a curious surprise to me. And then, after I walked through the metal detector, he stood there with both of his hands held out--like you would with a child who is learning to walk--saying I'm here for you. Come this way. I saw beautiful sites, and I ate wonderful meals and experienced lovely once in a lifetime moments with my guy, and somehow the simple kindness of that stranger keeps speaking to me.
I often refer to "covid world" as the dark ages. Remember when we kept saying to ourselves--it's going to get better. It has to. We can't live like this any longer. The uncertainty. The social slide of expectations and civilized interactions. And yet, the world keeps spinning.
I am NO doomsayer. I am not one to dwell on the dark side. I am affected as a human being, on this earth, for however long, by the events in this world. And as powerless as I may feel about a whole lot of what goes on that bothers me, I am going to keep coming back to kindergarten wisdom. Be kind. If you can be anything, be kind. Touching someone in their heart with your heart, your kindness, must be one of the greatest gifts in times of great stress.
Managing stress in uncertain times IS a walk up a steep hill without a crutch. There are so many ways to go about it like eating well, exercising, spending time outside, praying or meditating, petting your animals, hugging your loved ones, writing in your journal, practicing your hobbies, contributing your time or treasure...you've heard them all. The one I am working on is spreading kindness to strangers through simple acts. My little drop of thoughtfulness and good energy in the deepest ocean of need.