Jan. 22nd, 2013

malgrin: (Wee Me)
"Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you've got to be kind."
~Kurt Vonnegut (God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater)

One of my favorite literary quotes of all time. There is a "pre-kindness" iteration of Me. I am not entirely certain when I made the shift... but a number of years ago I really wasn't a kind person. At times, I was an unkind person. If I get psychological about it, I could probably trace the shift back to my efforts to learn how to love myself. Let's face it - that's where it all begins. I've often said that the problem with Jesus' admonishment that we should "Love our neighbors as ourselves" is that most people don't love themselves much at all. It all begins "at home." Being a self-serving sonuvabitch isn't the same thing as treating oneself with true, gentle, loving kindness. Looking back, my misery was pretty self-serving. It gave me something to talk about. It made me feel interesting. It gave me the impetus to shape pretty phrases of sadness and share them with the world. In the long run, it was all just emotional masturbation. I really just needed to get over myself.

"There is overwhelming evidence that the higher the level of self-esteem, the more likely one will be to treat others with respect, kindness, and generosity."
~Nathaniel Branden

I still fail at it - but I am at least aware of it now - and that's always the bulk of the battle.

Somewhere along the line, I figured out that life is complicated, weird, exhilarating, heartbreaking and often, just plain hard. If it is like that for me (and it is), then it is likely similar for others. If I can take a moment to forgive myself my own transgressions because life is complicated, weird, exhilarating heartbreaking and often, just plain hard - then I can do the same for anyone and everyone else. It's actually easier to do it for others because I hold myself to higher standards.

This doesn't mean that I will lie down and offer myself up as a Universal Doormat. Part of loving and respecting myself means that I must be aware of my own boundaries. It means that I do not have to spend inordinate amounts of time trying to understand the nasty motivations of other people. I don't have to take everything personally. Animals in pain bite - and we're ALL animals. A good portion of us are in one sort of pain or another at any given moment.

"Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not."
~Samuel Johnson

If I am NOT in pain - then I've got a lot of elbow room to forgive and to simply be kind. Even if I AM in pain - I can still take a moment to be empathetic and (yep... one more time) kind.

"In life you can never be too kind or too fair; everyone you meet is carrying a heavy load. When you go through your day expressing kindness and courtesy to all you meet, you leave behind a feeling of warmth and good cheer, and you help alleviate the burdens everyone is struggling with."
~Brian Tracy

Nothing really prompted this entry. I am simply meditating on the concept of Kindness today.

"How lovely to think that no one need wait a moment. We can start now, start slowly, changing the world. How lovely that everyone, great and small, can make a contribution toward introducing justice straightaway. And you can always, always give something, even if it is only kindness!"
Anne Frank


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