12 Days of Kindness
The teacher read the message reluctantly. The sender’s name was not familiar and yet… There was something familiar about it. While his life history wasn’t a secret, the message did reference a position he’d held for only one year. Hesitantly, he responded and the answer he received confirmed that the message was indeed from a former student, a student at a school he’d been at for only one year. The former student just wanted to say thank you, thank you for believing in his class, in opening their minds to the world outside their own small town and rural countryside.
The student had traveled the world, a bit unexpected for someone who had grown up in a rural sparsely-populated area in the middle of the country. The student had limited access to television and radio and a night out for the student in high school was spent behind the barn throwing bottle caps at a homemade target. The teacher had never traveled outside their home country but had lived in large cities, seen Broadway plays, opera, and live concerts and loved his cable tv. The student thanked the teacher for showing him life was about taking risks while the teacher was considered a planner, non-spontaneous in his living. This irony was not lost on the teacher. He had received a beautiful thank you note for teaching the student lessons that were not evident in his own life. He had no regrets, though, and was glad the student had surpassed the teacher.
Life is about a great many things but perhaps the best summation is that life about being open. Sometimes that means being open to going where life takes us and sometimes it simply means being open to what is in front of us. Every day asks us to be open to the goodness in people, even when such goodness is very well hidden. Each day also offers us a chance to be open to a positive perspective. My challenge to you today is to be open, to choose to see the positive. After all, we awake each morning with a choice.
Shannon Adler’s poem is directed toward female empowerment but applies to both men and women: “You chose. You chose to give away your love. You chose to have a broken heart. You chose to give up. You chose to hang on. You chose to react. You chose to feel insecure. You chose to feel anger. You chose to fight back. You chose to have hope. You chose to be naïve. You chose to ignore your intuition. You chose to ignore advice. You chose to look the other way. You chose to not listen. You chose to be stuck in the past. You chose your perspective. You chose to blame. You chose to be right. You chose your pride. You chose your games. You chose your ego. You chose your paranoia. You chose to compete. You chose your enemies. You chose your consequences.” Adler concludes: “Choose to let go. Choose dignity. Choose to forgive yourself. Choose to forgive others. Choose to see your value. Choose to show the world you’re not a victim. Choose to make us proud.”
We cannot control everything we encounter in life but we can control how we choose to react. Be open today to the positive choice, the lesson contained within the openness of living. Leonardo da Vinci is reported to have said, “Pity the student who does not surpass his master.” The student who cannot surpass the teacher is a student who has never been shown how to be open, the value of being open to life’s choices, the advantage of what being open can bring.
American statesman Benjamin Franklin understood the challenge of being open to living. “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” Be open top being involved in life. “It’s opener, out there, in the wide, open air.” Even the children’s book “Oh the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Suess recognizes the value of being open. Try it today and you’ll give yourself a gift of kindness.