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Month: February 2020

Kindness

How do I fit in the greater world? What is my relationship to my fellow people? Am I responsible for more than myself and my efforts and my wants? These are hard questions, but they are so critical to living a fulfilling life.

Kindness is a currency worth trafficking in. Feeling more than oneself. Giving part of oneself to another. By kindness, I don’t mean being nice and polite to people. That’s part of it sure, but those things are only surface-deep. Real kindness is altruism. It is giving without desire of receiving. It is empathy – not only feeling what others must be going through, but acting on those feelings and opening yourself to others.

Kindness can be a renewable resource, but it can also be draining. Altruism is tough. With true altruism there is no expectation of reciprocation – no expectation of thanks or even acknowledgement. That “thank you” goes so far, but we are to turn that desire off. When appreciation does come your way, the feeling can be intoxicating and addicting, making it painful to go without.

There has to be a middle ground. There has to be a way to be kind without just giving and giving and giving until there’s nothing left. Try to temper the thankless efforts with those that are appreciated. Show empathy and altruism to those that will not return it, but don’t throw everything into that well. Take care of yourself, too. You have to refill your kindness reserves. Volunteer with others. Bring your friends and loved ones into the circle, and boost each other as you give of yourselves.

A Year in the Life

I just noticed that it had been almost a year between my last two posts. A lot can happen in twelve months, but where does it leave me? Did my needle move? Am I happier? Am I a better person? I would like to think I am, but I can’t be sure. My life is certainly a lot different than it was a year ago. It has been a year of chaos, and it feels like I am just beginning to move out of it into more of a position of control. That is where I thrive – when I feel like I have control over my life. My stress level rises when I go too long without checking in – checking in on family, checking in on work, checking in on reading and writing (not so much, ‘rithmetic, but I do miss being a math nerd as a kid). My brain likes to wander, so when life is chaotic, my mind takes off and leaves me behind to juggle all of the little pieces it drops. I don’t make time to go on outings with the kids, or reconnect with friends, or read, because I just don’t think to. When I have structure to my day, I can relax. I can add nice little treats here and there. Like Bob Ross’s happy little trees, I can grab drinks with a buddy, go to the farmers’ market with the kids, grab an hour to write some fiction. It is all right there for me because the current of my life is churning along. I guess over the past year, I have realized how important it is to me to have order in my life – to have routine. I can’t control what comes my way, but I can control what I do with it, and I know now that I need to make it fit into an order, whatever that means. It may mean that I have to find a new work schedule to leave room for family. It may mean making time for breakfast with friends instead of drinks after work. Instead of trying to juggle all of the pieces of my life, frantically chasing new balls as they are thrown into the mix, I need to think more like Tetris and find how they can all fit together, while leaving room for the next piece to appear. Wish me luck!

Love Your Show

When I am up in front of the crowd, sometimes I get a little too deep in my own head. “Are they paying attention?” “Is this enjoyable at all?” Like so many other people, I suffer from the classic impostor’s syndrome. There is a way out that works for me. Try it yourself. Remind yourself that the audience is already there for you. They know why you are up there. You don’t have to try to win them over. You are there. They are there. Everyone knows the transaction that is taking place. Invite them into your living room, and enjoy the company.