Todd and I arrived home from Chicago Friday evening and I have been looking forward to this moment since we landed. It is my first moment alone in quiet to decompress and let out all the thoughts that have been rolling around in my head for over a week. There is plenty to say about our vacation and I plan to have everything update soon but today my inspiration is taking me in a different direction completely so vacation posts will have to wait for now.
As an aside I need to just revel in the glorious morning for a moment. I find myself again in my favorite room and the morning sun is particularly stunning today. Our backyard looks so green and alive one would never guess autumn is just around the corner, I suppose that is Florida for you though. I was lucky enough to be gifted our friend’s remaining Starbucks grounds when she returned to Chicago after her time with us last month and I have used them sparingly so as to get the most out of them. I do not ever spring for the good brand name coffee, or brand name anything for that matter, but it is delicious and I have been happy to have it. Today seemed like a good day to use the last of it. So here I sit with my coffee in a warm sunbeam that has managed to sneak through the canopy tree ready to map out some thoughts I have had after a conversation that took place between Todd and I in Chicago.
We were having lunch our last day in the city at a cafe near the hospital. As a ate my asparagus soup and he his BLT (the second that week – the man likes a BLT) we started talking about kindness. More specifically the importance of being kind even when not treated kindly by others. I was explaining to him how I don’t understand why it is so difficult for some people, it is as if people, at times, don’t think all the way through the impact their actions and words can have on others. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying to mean that I am not a part of this group of individuals. I believe it would be difficult to find anyone who has been always been kind and to borrow a biblical reference, has always been able to “turn the other cheek”. I, like everyone else, have had weak moments where I gave into my anger or frustration or whatever negative emotion was driving me in the moment. I have spoken cruel, cutting words when I should have taken that moment to breathe instead. I, like a good wine, have gotten better with age, however. Truthfully I have always been pretty good about choosing the higher road in instances of conflict. I, for the most part, am more of a “suffer in silence” type. To me it all goes back to not letting someone get the better of me by allowing them to see how hurt or bothered I am by their behaviour coupled with the fact that if I am cruel in return, I have to live with that. The truth is I can’t. I remember my moments of weakness just as well if not better than the moments where I was the focus of someone elses weakness. It is harder for me to forgive myself than it is for me to forgive someone else so I have always done my best to meet cruelty with kindness or to at least avoid “fighting fire with fire”.
One of the things I brought up during this conversation was one of the reasons it is important to be kind to others who are unkind to you is what if something happened to them? They fell severely ill or were involved in an accident or some other terrible thing. For those who choose cruelty over kindness they would probably rejoice in the other’s misfortune but the majority of us who have a conscience and just occasionally lapse into bad behavior we would feel awful about this. For me at least, I know that I would sit back and wonder why I ever thought the thing I was being mean about was worth it.
This happened to me in high-school. My last year of middle school was a tricky one as I had a falling out with my best girlfriend. Everyone remembers how arbitrary things were during that time of our lives, the smallest thing could create so much drama. Hormones, they make us crazy. Anyway, it wasn’t enough that our friendship had ended my former friend along with some of her friends proceeded to torment me the rest of the school year. We are talking everything from taunting me in the hallway and talking behind my back to other students to putting dog treats on my desk in class. I have to admit, that is a creative way to call someone a bitch. Luckily for me I have a wise mother with wonderful advice to share on how to handle these kinds of situations. I never retaliated and never gave them the satisfaction of a reaction. I remained silent and acted as though they did not exist. I was upset our friendship was over as well but I did not suddenly hate her and my mother made a good point when she said that behaving the same way they do would only make me feel bad about myself. The whole “two wrongs don’t make a right” talk. The year finally came to an end and I looked forward to my first year in high school. That was until I was in a car accident the first day of school after leaving campus. Luckily for me I only suffered injuries to my face but they were severe enough that I was out of school for a month. I still have the scars but I was also fortunate because one of the on-call doctors at the E.R. that day was a plastic surgeon so he did his best to sew me back together in a way to reduce scarring. 62 stitches in all, including those to reattach one of my nostril.
Well don’t you know a week after my accident my friend who brought my assignments home for me came over one day with a letter from my ex-bestfriend saying how sorry she was about my accident and for her actions the prior year. What she didn’t know is that I had already forgiven her. When I returned to school she and her friends sought me out and one of them even spent most of freshman year eating lunch with me and my friends because our schedules matched up. Had I not been in this accident she and I may have never made amends. I understand why she came to me though, I don’t think she ever truly hated me, I think she was just hurt like I was and got caught up in it. When I was in the accident I think it was just more than b her conscience could bear, I get that. It’s not like we ever returned to our friendship but at least what happened was no longer looming over either one of us.
The saying at the top of this post pretty much sums up my feelings on the matter. Kindness, politeness and refusal to act in agression-verbal or otherwise- does not equate to weakness. You have to be a strong person to endure and not give in. Just as strength is not gained through harsh words or actions. It is truly an act of weakness to treat others unkindly, you are giving in to something that is easy and provides instant gratification. If you think you will continue to feel good about your actions later that is just a sign of a shallow conscience.