The first time I think I truly thought of kindness was seeing a book describing random acts of kindness. So, apologies in advance but I’ve decided that in order to describe kindness, for me anyway, is to kind of list how kindness makes me feel. Maybe and perhaps you might recognise some of these.
Without reaching for a dictionary, to me kindness is that action that makes me feel good and positive about myself. How my friend when I was at secondary school shared frequently shared delicious chicken sandwiches with me which were so good, I can still feel that memory and virtually sense its texture and remember how it tasted. Thinking about kindness has just reminded me too of the times in hospital when I was first diagnosed with asthma. How the adults who were caring for me made me feel when they held my hand or physically touched me to make me feel more comfortable.
Kindness could be that touch that creates a spark of feelings inside that are just so warm and good, reminiscing about such moments evokes those heart stopping, brain thumping sensations. My earliest memory of having to stay overnight in hospital was at the age of eight. During a prolonged stay, I received a handwritten letter from my class teacher. The joy I felt at receiving letters throughout my childhood. Winning prizes from random draws or competitions that featured in magazines I read at the time. A souvenir fifty pence piece (we are talking 1970s here in case anyone doubted). The “best selling” albums of 1985 including Dire Straits ‘Brothers in Arms’ and ‘Hounds of Love’ by Kate Bush on vinyl. Receiving correspondence from Blue Peter (which for those who are not from the UK is one of the longest running programmes on British television) on at least three different occasions including one of their coveted and infamous special souvenir badges.
Thinking back to my school years, it was those friendships that formed inside the classroom that continued beyond the playground perimeter. Some of those friendships were temporarily revived at the turn of the century through ‘Friends Reunited’. Hearing from others how despite not feeling very popular at the time, so many voices reminiscing about how much of a positive impact my simply being around made them feel. I hadn’t realised at the time that some of my friends were going through some really difficult family experiences and had found solace and peace in the ‘sleepovers’ my parents had allowed me to host.
I crashed and burned my way from school into the world of work. The kindness and patient compassion that the Council or Local Authority employed Careers Counsellor showed in encouraging me to find and secure that first job. How despite me walking out of that first job in less than a week simply because I was that teenager with those inexplicable teenager self-important thoughts, she remained kind and patient with her support for a further two months until I secured a post with the Civil Service.
My time in the Civil Service was not without incident where again kindness prevailed. I had not yet reached my first anniversary of full time employment and yet to reach my nineteenth birthday. The Government Department I was working for at the time was still in its infancy having been officially established three months before I joined. Being at the vanguard point of the organisation, the Managers enrolled me onto a First Aid at Work training course held at the Department’s Headquarters by St James’ Park. It was there I formed a friendship with somebody who still to this day, rightly or wrongly, I think about. How in those early moments of our friendship, we had our picnic lunch in Parliament Square or St James’ Park. I remember our evening telephone calls that she made to me even though I would see her at work. How she would make time to visit my office as we were working on separate floors. How we celebrated my nineteenth birthday. Meeting her to visit Kew Gardens. Going to the Barbican to see a concert. It was at the point that I realised I wanted more from our friendship that she announced she had decided to resign her role to travel to China of all places. Her disparaging thoughts about working in the public sector made me question my own professional identity to the point that I resigned too. Once again it was a decision fuelled by tempestuous teenage thoughts rather than hard professional reasoning. When after a month I spoke to those I had been working with, their kindness overwhelmed me as they welcomed me back with open arms. I don’t think it was a question of repaying their kindness but I eventually stayed working for the same organisation for a further twenty-two and a half years.
Those feelings of when kindness turns to love of the romantic kind I experienced two more times. Once was in 1991 which culminated in a very strange relationship which has its own story for another time. The more recent moment was in the Autumn of 2002 when I realised that my new house mate was “the one”. I’m off now to bring her a cup of tea in bed as we look forward to celebrating our seventeenth wedding anniversary with another day of home school to look forward to with our 10 year old daughter and 7 year old son in these chaotic and confusing times…
Thank you for reading. #stayhomestaysafe