by: R.J. Palacio
Alfred A. Knopf, 2012
In about second grade, two of my friends and I started a Kindness Club. I don’t remember doing anything especially kind, but we were nice to each other. Once a week we went to each other’s houses for lunch.
Sometimes it’s a tall order to be kind. I have to think about it and work at it. Lots of people tell me I’m nice, but that’s not the same thing.
When I was pretty new to town, I had a friend who was organized, involved in her children’s lives and in the community. She always had time to invite her friends to her home for dinner, make casseroles for new neighbors, participate in the PTO.
Once, when I was the recipient of one of her generous dinners, I asked her how she got so much stuff done. Her answer changed my life.
"I always have time to do what I love to do." She sounded so matter-of-fact.
I had been spending my time with two young children, a new town and a failing marriage (although I didn’t acknowledge that, yet) avoiding the things I hated to do. Doing what I loved was a new idea for me. First I needed to discover what exactly it was that I loved. I’m still working on it. It changes. A moving target.
Today I visited an old friend in a nursing home.. She’s in her 90s AND I’ve known her for over 30 years, so both kinds of old. She’s feeling very weak and looks very frail. When I walked in, she smiled. We had a nice chat. I found her Chapstick which was not where it was supposed to be and gave her a drink of water, twice. I didn’t feel especially kind. I just wanted to see her and visit for a little while. Maybe that is kindness. Or maybe it’s just doing what I love.
National Random Acts of Kindness Day was February 17. But that was the week of the Westminster Dog Show. And they had cats this year!
So even though my timing is a little off, I'm sure it’s always the right time to be kind!