Naturally, my thoughts, since reading the article, have focused on the topic of kindness and I've re-run so many mental videos, weighing in on my own acts or missed opportunities. I've probably spent more time reflecting on acts of kindness that that touched me as the recipient and it is amazing that these are still so on the surface of my thoughts after many years in some cases.
It does not take much thought to recall being rescued in the Venice airport by a high-ranking executive of my company who appeared out of nowhere at exactly the right time. The woman who gave me the glass dish at the flea market when my son was in high school, the man who's "random act of kindness" paid my toll that day on the New Jersey Turnpike, the box of chocolate cupcakes, beautifully tied with a pink polka-dotted ribbon that was held in the hands of a young, disabled friend as I retired from Colgate, they jump out in memory. I'll never forget being too ill to get out of bed and after grocery shopping with her Nana, a very young daughter telling me that she bought "grasshopper" cookies for us because they were on sale, or my adolescent son, giving his cousin a precious video toy that he had just bought with his own money, just because Nick was so interested in it. Friends, too many to list, who have shown kindness in its purest form, over and over, humble me. And then, yesterday my father, who asked repeatedly "when are you going on your vacation?" just to be sure that had the segway needed for his presentation of some cash for "your trip", fresh from the pocket of his trousers Kindness.
The Living article touts acts of kindness as the "latest prescription for good health", that new research finds the simplest of acts as boosters of well-being. The benefits of good deeding range from lowered rates of depression and mortality to increases in self-esteem and strengthened immune systems. "Doing unto others" might be the next generation of mood-enhancing therapy. When we are kind, we feel better about ourselves and seemingly everything else in the world. The nicer we are, the happier. Becoming happy results in becoming more creative and more productive, good reasons for sharing your toys.
All of these thoughts surrounding kind acts and mutual benefits left me with a stunning lesson, one that I might even be tempted to send along as a Letter to the Editor. How sad it is when life goes on long after everyone you have loved have left the world, when all things that were once so much a part of your life and happiness have disappeared, when you no longer have anybody to receive your kindness.
It is extra-sad when you no longer are the receiver.