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  • Writer's pictureMark McMinn

Kindness Comes to Mind

Some nights don't turn out as well as others.

I'm not a psychologist who makes much of dream interpretation, but every now and then a night shows up where dreams bombard me and make me question and reevaluate just about everything.

Last night, for example. I'll not drag you through dreams, but just my morning reflections.

Kindness may be more urgent than we can ever know or imagine. I'm not just thinking of the kindness that we advertise in yard signs and bumper stickers. That sort of reminder is fine, but I'm also pondering the kindness that shows up each day with hands and feet and smiles and listening and money and helpfulness and caring and empathy in a messy, complicated world.

Others will misunderstand us, sometimes mistreat us, and occasionally malign us. Sadly, the reverse is also true, maybe equally true. We will misunderstand others with alarming regularity, and (God forbid) mistreat them when they most need love. Many times won't even know we're doing so. How do we slow this ridiculousness? Kindness comes to mind.

We will fail at some of the things we deem most important in life. Oh, how I wish this weren't true, but it is. How will we manage the shame and disappointment? Why is kindness toward self sometimes so much more difficult than we might imagine?

Others will fail, too. How will we respond? Or, at least, how will our better selves want to respond? Will we allow kindness to settle in around the edges of our anger until it ultimately saturates our souls with forgiveness?

Our young aspirations will wilt over time as we realize we're not as gifted and special as we once thought ourselves to be. Who will we become when our grasping and aspirations are revealed as the illusions they have always been? Kindness is always reachable.

Life will end before we wish it did, before we are able to make our mark or demonstrate our worthiness or whatever it is we feel must do to make life worth dying for. Our legacies will be smaller than our fantasies. What makes it important that we have lived at all? Some will say justice, but I wonder if that's just more grandiosity. Maybe kindness is our only reasonable step toward justice. Some will say faith, and I won't disagree, but faith without kindness devolves into smug judgmentalism. A hellish place, that.

Some days and nights won't go as we plan. Dreams will turn on us, stirring angst residing just beneath the surface we call consciousness. Who will we become in these shifting moments of liminality? Kindness comes to mind.

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