Stress has a tendency to unravel us. When we have a heavy load of homework in our classes or one thing or another to worry about, the weight of it all is overwhelming. We have this propensity to sink into ourselves, our mind constantly meandering away from reality and our eyes oblivious to what is around us. We become wrapped up in our work, our thoughts, our fears. And we begin to forget the little things that fuel us.
But when I was studying the other day, entrenched in a lab report, I heard a man call to the janitor in the building, “Do you have little kids?” The confused janitor was reticent in his reply, but after a beat, he said yes. The man then said, “Do you want a basketball hoop?”, indicating a small basketball hoop tall enough for a five or six-year-old, then mentioning he didn’t need it. And the janitor replied that “yes,” yes he would. The man left shortly thereafter and I thought about the janitor going home and surprising his kids with that little basketball hoop and his kids being so excited.
It wasn’t a big thing. But since arriving at Ohio State, I have broadened my perspective of “the big picture” very much—education reform, feminism, and politics, all on a state, national, or international level. Alternatively, I have also narrowed my focuses on sights far too small, like the wonder that is MyMathLab or Economics projects. This is a slightly weird combination of focuses that only college students can truly achieve. However, ironically, sometimes the big picture is so big and the small picture is so small that you forget what kindness is day-to-day. You forget to look out for your friends and classmates and mom before saving the world. You forget to see the small sacrifices people make for you when you’re busy racing for that 4 a.m. deadline. You forget what everyday kindness is—nothing out of the ordinary, but something full of sincerity. And that is what we need.
What that man did didn’t achieve world peace or solve global warming. It wasn’t the kindest thing I’ve seen been done before. But it was nice that it wasn’t about magnitude—he just made a few little kids presumably very happy in the timely, everyday way that he could.
And I realized that things like this are what fuel me. They make me believe in people.
So I am challenging you now to find these ordinary acts of insurmountable kindness, to find reasons to be happy and optimistic about the world in the smallest sense, even when it seems like you have no time or energy to breathe or think. And I challenge you to respond with everyday kindness as well, to realize that you don’t have to go so out of your way to make someone’s day.
A wonderful example of everyday kindness.