A few years back I was having trouble with my contacts. I’ve had them since I was in the sixth grade—so if you wear contacts, then you know that I’ve also been struggling with them since the sixth grade, too. That day my eyes were probably puffy and watery and just all gross. So gross that the best cure would’ve been going home, crawling under my covers, and sheltering my eyes from the world or else apocalypse would occur. Alright, so that’s dramatic, but contacts give a whole new definition to “the struggle is real.”
Why this hideous-eye-day stands out to me is because someone actually noticed, but not because they were staring or screaming in fear or passing out from the hideousness. Because this person thought I was crying. She stopped me and asked if I was alright and if I needed to talk.
That is one of the kindest things that anyone—especially a stranger—has ever done for me. Something so simple as taking the time to stop in the sprint that is trying to get across campus in time for class, and then asking me if I was OK, has stuck with me. Maybe it’s stupid to say, but that moment made me want to be a better person. To do that for someone else.
I don’t know who she was, but whoever you are, thanks for that!
I’ve always believed in karma. That ignoring someone who looks like they need a moment of kindness or saying something mean or choosing to look the other way is wrong. It’s always felt like in doing so that the person who does that sort of thing will earn them a time when they need someone and look to find no one there. But the more that I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve come to realize that karma doesn’t really exist. Sometimes bad things just happen and there’s no one there. And if there’s no one there—maybe it is because of something you did or didn’t do. At that point, it’s not some fate reigning down on you; it’s your own choices. So long as you believe in free will, you can’t exactly believe that fate is making those choices for you—that karma is punishing you for making a choice, albeit wrong. Sometimes it’s just one you and you have to face that. You have to face that in the end, it’s kindness you want following you around, because the other stuff will make you into someone forgettable and just another person doing nothing. You don’t make a difference that way.
You don’t even have to reach out to people who look like they need a friend, because sometimes I’ve found that it’s the little things that help. Telling someone that you like their shoes or thanking a person for taking time to hold the door open can make a difference—bring a smile to a sad face or make a smile even bigger. One of my favorite things to do is to tell a sales or desk worker to have a nice day before they can tell me.
I think that in this life, it’s important to see that the world is bigger than you. Fate doesn’t have the time to punish you for not helping someone or being kind. That’s where you come in—where you hold the reigns to your own self-proclaimed fate. The key to making life a happy, fulfilled voyage is that you handle those reigns with kindness instead of fire.
So what have you done today? What will you do tomorrow? Hey, I like your shirt.