Second Act Lessons: Why Kindness Always Wins

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Kindness. Pretty sure I would not have realized in my formative years just how important this word would be, let alone the action itself. I think the idea for this article came from living where I live, and doing what I do. I meet a lot of people. I love living on Cape Cod. This means a lot considering I’m all hood rat, a term I use often and endearingly to refer to myself. I have become calmer and more peaceful even though those who know me would think otherwise considering my high energy spastic personality. I’m like a toddler who has had way too much sugar. I think quality reflects happiness although it may be too much for some. What I HAVE become is kinder. Not sure I was ever considered a kind kid; in fact my beloved mother would tell you what a shithead I was. My sisters would say the same thing since they were the brunt of my shithead behavior most times.

This isn’t going to be some inspirational, compelling write up with Buddha quotes and shit. I’m not that corny or predictable. What I WILL say is that I’ve seen more than enough unkind nonsense this summer. I live in a destination town. It’s beautiful. Who wouldn’t want to come here? When I’m on vacation, wherever that may be, I’m not only kind but I’m grateful and respectful. I don’t bark orders, I don’t snap or scowl at inconveniences. Why? Because I’m on friggin vacation where I’m relaxed and grateful and wide-eyed with curiosity. And most of all I’m happy. I’m just a happy person overall. I can absolutely be a bitch and warn those close to me to not poke the bear (picture opening scene of Jurassic Park where they lower the goat into the velociraptor cage and the thing gets annihilated.) For the most part I’m a kind person. I don’t lose my shit on people who are just doing their jobs or shriek out of the window of my vehicle waving my middle finger around. What is that supposed to do anyway? Your middle finger waving at me? “Geez I’ll never accidentally cut someone off ever again. That guy back in summer of 2018 really made an impact on me.” That doesn’t happen. My favorite is at the grocery store. We’re all there for the same thing — essentials. No one is getting free groceries if you bulldoze through the crowd who is waiting for the same register. Stop and Shop isn’t going to run out of paper towels so slow your roll Helen.

We all have days where our patience level is as thin as wet toilet paper. I get it. We have days where we have nothing to give and just want to be home, alone with the dogs watching Dr. Phil...(that might be just me.) 

But in circumstances in which we have to drag ourselves through the day and interact with one another, it takes just as much energy to be a grouch as it does to be pleasant. One person’s actions can ruin someone else’s entire day.

A sharp tongue is damaging and can leave lasting marks on sensitive people. In 4th grade, I finished an in-class assignment early and proudly raised my hand to tell my teacher I was done. She pointed her long bony Maleficent-esqe finger at me and said, “hold it in your hot grubby little hands until I collect them.”

I. Was. Gutted.

That cranky bitch scarred me for life proving that careless, dismissive unkind remarks can really affect someone. I realize now that when I’m on the receiving end of this behavior, it has nothing to do with me. The aggressor is fighting some other internal battle and I was just in the line of fire. I will tell you this; even one unsolicited compliment to a complete stranger will have the same, if not more powerful, effect on someone. Some random woman a month ago walked by me in the market and complimented me. It took me is off guard and I thought “she just made me feel really good.”

So let’s pass that kind of vibe around. We live in such a hostile, angry world. The news sucks the soul and joy right out of me, so I don’t watch it. I’m not telling you to skip down Main Street with a basket of flower petals twirling and singing like some Disney princess. But if you’re walking past someone, smile at them. Say hello. If you see someone struggling with a door or carriage, help them. If you see someone having a bad day, be kind to them and find a way to make them laugh. It can change the whole trajectory of their day, week or month. Just don’t be a crappy person who’s mad at the world. Christ that must be exhausting. I absolutely have my own days where I get the head roll going and the finger waving and my Irish up and want to get into a scrap with anyone who looks at me sideways, it’s not often and usually warranted, however I don’t act on it. I never want to be someone’s mean finger wagging 4th grade teacher. That’s not how I want anyone to describe me in my eulogy. I want to be considered the fun aunt, the funny friend, dog lover and an overall kind person. So next time you feel yourself getting ready to launch on the server because she got your order wrong, think about the way you say it. Be kind. She may be having a bad day too and your interaction with her, either way, could change her entire day. Make it for the better.


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