(Photo credit: Richa P)
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” Dalai Lama
Over New Year’s day, Chris, Kalu, and I were stranded in rural Texas for two days. There was an ice storm and the highways were closed, the highway patrol wasn’t letting people through. We were on our way back home to California from our cross country trip to South Carolina. At that time, we had already driven three days. The night we arrived in this tiny town, we ended up sleeping in our car because the community center was packed. Luckily for us, Chris had packed sleeping bags and blankets. The next night, we stayed in the community center with a hundred other people. People of all ages were sleeping on the floor, talking in small groups, petting the various animals, and eating snacks. This tiny town only had around 500 people, the closest city was over 2 hours away, the nearest grocery store was more than 30 minutes away. However, members of the town rallied and really helped out all of the travelers. They opened the doors and made us feel welcome. They cooked us meals, gave us their blankets, used their own supplies to help us feel more comfortable. Even with this random group of people, the atmosphere was amazing. Almost everyone was in a jolly spirit. We talked with others, we shared stories, we laughed in the dark. People tried to make light of the situation even if they had places to get to. I made friends with all the children, we drew together, we made a fort under tables where we watched a movie. Because I was surrounded by children, the Red Cross Volunteer thought I was one too. He asked whether I would like crayons or colored markers. This made us laugh because I am almost 30.
You usually hear about kindness of strangers after disasters or tragedies. While this wasn’t anything compared to a hurricane or earthquake, the town’s people took really good care of us. They made sure everyone was cozy and had everything they needed. This was really special to see because the people who took care of us were not only kind but went out of their way to do more. They weren’t rich but they shared everything they had in the fridge and cabinets. They shared their love. I personally have never experienced kindness of this magnitude before and it came from a few people who took their time to care.
When I was in rural Nepal, I experienced this sort of kindness and hospitality. People who had nothing would feed me, would go out of their way to make the best meal they could. They would share their last cup of sugar to make me chia. A few of my friends who have visited Nepal always tell me how kind we are. This always fills me with a sense of pride. I also think that we, Nepali people, can do more to be gentle to our own kind.
Isn’t it interesting how studies have shown that rich people tend to give less than poor people? Perhaps it’s because people in the lower/middle class have personal experience with hard times and realize that we may be there one day? I am not sure, all I know is that kindness to me means more than monetary contributions. It means kindness in words and actions. My New Year’s experience has made me think how about how I treat others and what I do to help. I consider myself to be a kind person but I keep asking myself if I am doing enough. It’s easy to give a dollar to a homeless person but would it mean more to say hello and ask how they are?
How do you define kindness? What is the nicest thing a stranger has done for you? Please share! Follow us on twitter!