For a long time, I had a little sign in my office. It read, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” I taped it to the side of my bookcase where I could see it, but my students couldn’t. Some of my more frustrating students may have noticed my eyes flitting toward my bookcase, but they didn’t see the reminder I was giving myself: It is always possible. (Understand, I’m not naturally a kind person. The reminder was there for a reason.)
Today, I received another kindness reminder and saw its long-lasting effects.
Three years ago, my son was in his last year of middle school, and he had a goal of running fast and long at his school’s annual fundraising jog-a-thon. He’d talked for days about how many miles he planned to clock. It’s a big deal for eighth graders–it’s the last year they can run before they’re in high school and become too cool to do anything so childish as actually try to win.
But then, a young boy whom knew Grant from the neighborhood wanted to run with him. And without a second thought, Grant set aside his goal and adjusted his pace to match the shorter stride.
I was a proud, weepy mess that day. To see your child let go of his own goals to help someone younger… well, it reveals to you the strength of character in the person you’ve been given to raise.
Today, I discovered that I wasn’t the only one affected by my son’s kindness. The mother of the boy Grant ran with that day sent me a message today. She had been talking with her son about being kind to his younger sister. And he replied, “Like Grant with me at the Jog-a-thon.” That run was, to him, one of the best example of kindness he could remember. Three years is a long time in the life of a young boy. But the memory of kindness endures.
And I find myself a proud, weepy mess again.
I don’t think we always understand the power of small acts: a well-timed compliment, a batch of homemade cookies, running with a small boy. The everyday kindnesses, the moments of setting aside our own wishes to meet the needs of another person, are the ones that matter and are the ones that last.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Your kindness can shape another life.