Anyone can be talented or gorgeous.
Kindness? That takes effort.
Especially with annoying people.
This quote comes from ‘To Tina of the Early Nineties’,the first poem in my collection This Is Not Therapy. It’s written from the perspective of my fifty-something self, wanting to reassure, advise, cajole my younger self into a more authentic expression in the world.
These particular line was inspired by a note scribbled to myself years ago, on hearing legendary tv and radio comedy producer, John Lloyd on Desert Island Discs several years ago. He was talking about a low point in his life, when despite having had enormous success with shows like Blackadder and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, he found himself in deep despair. One of the things that pulled him out of his depression was realising that being talented or handsome doesn’t make you a good person; you just got lucky in the genes department. But if you could practice kindness, now there was a skill.
There have been times in my life where I considered being kind a weakness. Letting people off the hook. But it isn’t. To be kind in difficult circumstances demands strength. And kindness invokes compassion. Allows for nuance. It requires you to see more than one side to any story. You can’t be kind to someone and damn them at the same time.
Kindness is also not feeling sorry for a person. When has feeling sorry for anyone ever helped? Instead, kindness says, I see you. I witness your troubles. I stand with you as best as I can.
If you’ve read This Is Not Therapy, you’ll know how inspired I was by the tenacity and invention of the Afghan All-Girls Robotics team, a few years back. It’s been recently reported that they have found their way to safety in Qatar. Others will not have been as lucky. It’s easy to feel helpless, watching these events unfold. What can I does far away? Well, for a start, I’ve donated to Women for Afghan Women as a minuscule act of kindness.
Of course it’s not enough.
But it’s something.
And tiny kindnesses can add up. Lead to a better result.