|When I was a girl, my dad had the irritating habit of bursting into song when we weren’t being kind. ”Let us oft’ speak kind words to each other, at home or where’ere we may be…” he sang–in his best opera voice.
It did the trick. I absolutely hated that song and how he sang it. I changed my behavior ASAP just to get him to stop singing. His message was clear: my parents expected us to choose kindness, no matter what.
I had no idea what was in store for me, in my life, when I was a girl. I’ve lived through horrific shock; unimaginable loss; personal devastation; grief. I’ve been falsely accused and wrongly judged by people who know me (and thus should have known better) and by random strangers (who don’t know me at all) a few times. Sometimes it seemed like my situation couldn’t have gotten much worse. But I’m thankful I was taught to be kind, because I firmly believe and I’ve seen for myself that the only thing that can make a bad situation worse is anger, contention, venom, hatred, rudeness, hostility, vilification, an unwillingness to forgive…in other words, a lack of kindness and charity.
Regardless of what happens to us, I strongly believe our reaction to every situation, unexpected or otherwise, continues to be a choice and, “Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.” (Samuel Johnson) I’ve seen for myself that, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” (Mother Teresa) I’m reminded of that each day when someone chooses to act or speak with kindness toward me. I was reminded of that even today when a stranger named Mark offered a kind comment on my blog. And when my former spouse was sentenced and a Ponzi scheme victim I don’t know offered a kind word on my blog. I have been uplifted by the kindness of strangers countless times in my life, especially in my unexpected one.
Now I sing that song, my dad’s song, to my own kids. In an opera voice, too. And I’m pleased to report it’s working just as well for the next generation of my family. We’re not perfect, but we’re trying to be kind. Always. And we’re singing about it.
Just a little something in addition to the dance moves we’ve developed…in our unexpected life.
“While I dance I cannot judge, I cannot hate, I cannot separate myself from life. I can only be joyful and whole. That is why I dance.” (Hans Bos)