Laughter and Kindness
Twelve Days of Kindness
As we reached the end of 2018, statistics came to light about how divided the United States had become. Living as a minority or a woman, a handicapped individual or in poverty reached good levels in 2016 but in the past two years have fallen to where life as someone in one of those categories has become very hard. Thus I decided to spend the twelve days of Christmas discussing twelve ways to be kind. I think we need to spend a bit more time talking about kindness, not just in the USA but worldwide. Someone asked me a characteristic of being kind and the first thing I thought of was … laughter. “Laughter is timeless. Imagination has no age. Dreams are forever.” These words were written by J. M. Barrie in his 1904 play “Peter Pan” and included in the novelization of the play published in 1911, “Peter and Wendy.”
It is said that someone who is kind to animals must be kind to people and I confess I have always taken in account how a person treats dogs. I guess you could say my standard of kindness for a person, their breeding if you will, is exhibited by their response and reaction to dogs. In other words, one of my standards or ways to determine someone’s kindness quotient is their treatment of canines.
Generally when a breed is recognized, there are certain standards. Different breeds of dogs must conform to these standards when competing in dog shows. An English bulldog, for example, cannot compete if the coloring is piebald. Piebald, not to be confused with merle, is a spotting pattern of an animal found not only in the hair but often on the skin as well. The word “piebald” is a combination of the word “pie”, derived from the magpie bird which has a distinguishing black and white plumage, and the word “bald”, referring to a white patch or seemingly hairless spot.
Many different animals have the piebald coloring. In horses it is found in the pinto breed although the coloration is usually brown and white. The national bird of the United States of America gets its name from its white cap of hair – the American bald eagle. Many birds have this coloring as do dogs, such as the English bulldog. While a piebald English bulldog may not be allowed to compete, they are adorable animals.
I will admit I have three rescue animals and all are black and white: two piebald cats known as tuxedo cats and one giant dog whose coloring could be called barely merle or piebald. I like the coloring of the black and white. It reminds me of the keys on a piano. However, I also like the symbolism of how the dark and light come together. After all, none of us is perfect. We have a bit of dark and light in ourselves. We go through our life trying to fix the dark and tinker or improve the light in our souls.
A tinker was a person who traveled around fixing things. J. M. Barrie gave his fairy friend of the main character Peter Pan the name Tinkerbell since she tended to “fix” things for Peter and the fairy folk. In the original musical stage presentation, the voice of Tinkerbell was performed by a percussionist and resembled a tinkling bell although it was actually played on an instrument known as the celesta. Originally, though, “Peter Pan” was not a musical and Tinkerbell was a darting light that seemed to dance around the stage. Her voice was a collar of bells that belonged to Barrie himself. The program, however, listed a Jane Wren as playing the part of Tinkerbell. Eventually the Inspector of Taxes filed a legal demand that Jane Wren pay taxes for her salary for the play and the truth finally came out.
The tinker folk of the British Isles have been portrayed as thieves but generally they were respected for the handyman abilities and cheerful natures. They moved about seeking work and seemed very content with their lives.
The opening quote of this post is said by Tinkerbell who did indeed gain a voice in later productions. Though Barrie wrote in the death of Tinkerbell a year after Wendy and her brothers leave Neverland, the fairy remains forever a prominent role for children. Barrie explained her tempestuous nature as being caused by a personality too small for her body. Sometimes we feel much the same with life.
“Laughter is timeless. Imagination has no age. Dreams are forever”. Dreams are forever and one of mine is that we all practice kindness each and every day. Dreams are the portals through which we imagine and create goodness, greatness, and kindness but action is what makes those dreams become reality. Victor Borge, a great entertainer and humanitarian once said, “Laughter is the closest distance between two people.” Share laughter and you will share kindness. Hopefully we will find laughter in 2019 and grow kindness to new levels.