27.5.13

Random Acts of Kindness

This is my entry for the Random Acts of kindness blogfest sponsored by Wayman Publishing. It's all about celebrating the kindnesses in life that help to make it all bearable.

Several months ago, author and blogger Jennifer Lane wrote a post in promotion of Poughkeepsie,  a novel by Debra Anastasia about a homeless man and the girl who smiles at him every day in the train station. In the post, Jennifer recalled something she learned while interning at a homeless shelter---her director explained that when we encounter homeless people on the street, whether we give them money or not, the "one thing we should do is show respect by looking them in the eye."

The statement really struck me. Because as simple as it seems, I realized that at those times when I didn't give money, I avoided eye contact, mostly out of my own guilt and discomfort. Whatever the reason, the result was that I completely ignored  a human being who was just a few feet away from me. I never thought about how it must feel for them to spend a good portion of their lives with others just walking by as if they didn't even exist. So now I think about it. 

A few weeks ago I was making my way through the streets of Chicago to catch a train when I spotted two homeless people sitting on the sidewalk, holding up a sign, asking for money, I presumed. But I was in a rush and decided that stopping to open my wallet on the darkening city street wouldn't be the best idea. The old me would've flicked my focus in another direction, but now I know better, and as I walked by I simply looked at them and smiled, and this time I got proof that even such a small gesture has meaning---the woman's face lit up and she pointed at me, saying "Thank you for the smile, sweetheart."

I think the thank you was the bigger act of kindness, because my smile lasted all the way to the train station, and the warmth of having made that tiny connection is still with me. There is power in a smile and a thank you. And that's all kindness is, really, treating other humans like humans, recognizing our fellowship on this giant spinning rock and doing what we can to make our stays here just a little warmer and fuzzier.  




11 comments:

Suze said...

I try to always do the smile and salute.

Nice post, babe.

DL Hammons said...

Good for you!

The reason I include a :) in my comments is so I can better communicate my emotions and pass along a little ray of sunshine where I can.

:)

Fida Islaih said...

This is touching, thanks for sharing!

Sherry Ellis said...

What a great story! Yes, a simple smile can be a great act of love!

Janie Junebug said...

Such a good thought, and as always, your writing is great.

Love,
Janie

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I've seen people yell at homeless people and insult them, and it always makes me feel sad and angry. So it makes me feel good to read about acts of kindness towards homeless people.

Mark Means said...

A lot of times, it's the little things that can help make a person's day. :)

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Nicki,

I encounter homeless people on a daily basis. And several times a day. I always try to look them in the eye and smile. They always ask for money, but I tell them sorry, not today. They smile back and most thank me. So you are correct. We should always try to make a human effort. These poor souls are on the streets every day. For whatever reason this is their life and we should show some respect for their existence.


Oh, and THANKS for the links.... I just remembered I hadn't written you back since you sent the second one.

michelle said...

Great post.
A smile costs nothing, but it may mean the difference between life and death... you never know...

Writer In Transit

M. J. Joachim said...

Smiles are definitely powerful things...

Dana said...

I agree with M. J. Smiles really are powerful.

Thanks for stopping by my blog during last week's blitz. You all made my day. :)

Looking forward to reading more of your posts. ☺