Been a rough week and the weekend hasn’t been any better. I’m not sure where I can look without finding a disaster. Europe – Russia’s aggression continues. Now they’re fighting from the safety of a nuclear reactor, sticking their tongues out at the rest of the world, daring them to shoot. The Middle East is now back in the picture – rockets from Gaza sent into Israel provoking the expected response. Even here in Milwaukee – seven shootings to add to what appears to be the killing of another Muslim in Albuquerque. Unfortunately, I’m guessing it’s just as bad in your neck of the woods.
And the alternative right heaps vitriolic on top of this all. No matter that Alex Jones has been hit with punitive damages for his lies or that the Trumpian “Big Steal” has yet to supply proof of any fraud. Hate mongers continue to fan flames and distract from any constructive dialogue. And if you haven’t noticed – climate change is causing more damage – floods, fatally hot weather, massive melting of the ice caps north and south. And we’re still far from taking the necessary steps to preserve a world for our children and our children’s children.
It’s all too easy to let these BIG problems distract us from the small ones in front of us all the time. The ones where we really can have an impact and that affect us continually – our own self-concept and how we interact in the microcosm around us – family and friends.
Family and friends are valuable mirrors into ourselves. How we act and feel directly affects them. Wake up grouchy and bitching at the world before the first cup of coffee and you may find it slapped down on the table in front of you. Perhaps it would have been better to take a minute on the side of the bed heading to the bathroom to ask yourself how are you feeling? An honest assessment may be tough. But it’s a start. Don’t admit to a problem and you’ll never be able to make a start on solving it. Not easy, but if you had a bad night, then “Honey, I’m feeling shitty; maybe some quiet time. I’ll try not to bite your head off – OK, at least until noon.”
Yup. All too often I’m not aware of my feelings or pent-up frustrations and crash through the house and day without taking a breath. No benefit there for anyone. I’m trapped in my head and body. What to do?
I’ve written before about the little kindnesses that can save both ourselves and have a cumulative effect on the rest of the world. The little things that we can do with just a little thought and without much of a personal cost: KINDNESS and CONSIDERATION.
I ain’t so big – powerful or high and mighty – that when I take a walk, either with or without the dog, that I can’t stop to pick up a piece of litter. Don’t have to pick up everything or the really yucky stuff. One piece will do it. I’ll stoop – think the rest of the world counts for something – it’s equally as important as me and my problems – and my neighborhood deserves to look nicer, be more inviting. No one need know. I’ll give myself the “at-a-boy” later.
And I can smile and say “hi” to anyone I pass on the street. Make them feel welcome. Don’t even need to say Hi, a smile works fine. And I can step to the side and let people coming toward me pass comfortably.
I can try to continue being considerate if I’m driving. Blasting the radio with the windows open is infantile. Aggressive driving isn’t any better. It doesn’t make me a bigger or better person. It’s not much different than denigrating others or spreading hate – trying to climb over others is not even a short-term solution for mental health. It’s being done by small men and women either for power or money or both. It doesn’t play well and may cause our democracy to crumble. Ah, it’s so easy to slip back to those BIG problems at the top of this essay.
So, come back to the challenge at hand – ourselves and how we can begin to be better by small acts of kindness and consideration. They add up and really count. Don’t think they’re easy to do. Curious, try it for a week. Make a note on your calendar a week out: K & C. Then when the week rolls by and you find K & C on your calendar see if you can remember what they stand for and then ask yourselves – whatever. This too is part of self-care and healing. Good luck!
Ken was a Professor of Mathematics, a ceramicist, a welder, and an IBMer until downsized in 2000. He taught yoga until COVID-19 decided otherwise. He continues writing, living with his wife and beagle in Shorewood, Wisconsin. He enjoys chamber music and mysteries. He’s a homebrewer and runs whitewater rivers. Ken is a writer and his literary works can be found at https://www.kmkbooks.com/
He welcomes feedback on his articles and can be reached at email@example.com.