Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Choosing Kindness

Too often kindness is relegated to a random act performed only when we’re feeling good. But an even greater kindness (to ourselves and others) occurs when we reach out even when we aren't feeling entirely whole. It’s not easy, and no one is perfect. But we’ve decided it’s not impossible to brighten the world one smile, one kind word, one blog post at a time. To that end, a few of us writers have established The Kindness Project, starting with a series of inspirational posts. We post the second Wednesday of every month. Want to join us? Grab our button and spread a little kindness. 

It's horrible what high school can do to you, especially if you find it hard to connect with people.
I'm lucky enough to say that I've never been forced to extremes. But I know how it feels to look around the classroom and feel something like a feral dog, judging from the few friendly faces. And it's times like these when I miss Noah.
He was the kindest person I know. I don't know how to exactly quantify it, but imagine the eccentric boy at school who gave people apology rocks whenever they were feeling down. Imagine the boy who would rush out of fourth period first with his tackle box and lunch pail in both hands—not because he was in a hurry to get to lunch, but because he felt it was his civic duty to hold the hallway door open for everyone.
The first month during freshman year that he did this, I thought he had a friend who was slow in getting out of the classroom. But one day, even as I came out late and there was no one left in the hallway, Noah was still standing there, holding the door open.
“Linda, are you coming?” he asked.
“Yeah—thanks, Noah!” I said, and we straggled to lunch, him with a strangely-wonderful smile.
He never wanted to close the door in anyone's face—and he didn't.
I'd see him biking around my neighborhood, up to 30 miles a night. The times he was more relaxed, I'd flag him down and we'd have good conversations on swingsets, me in denim cut-offs and flip-flops, him with his black Schwinn bike suit on. I don't even know what we talked about, just that we'd talk until the egg-yolk sun dipped below the Florida horizon, when it was time for me to go home and for him to clock a few more miles.
That boy was special and rare. Because, while high school is cruel, he never let it change him. Because, despite a string of bad luck in his own life, he always took time out of his day to make us feel a whole lot better.
So, eight months and three days after he killed himself, I'm still at a loss for what to say.
I know it would have taken more than small acts of kindness to help him, but I just wish we at least let him know that he was appreciated, that he was loved. In that hustle-and-bustle of such a demanding academic environment, he was a little piece of humanity.
I'm working on being a better person, I am. I've learned to push for what's right, to improve what e.e. cummings rightly called manunkind. Noah is my inspiration for participating in The Kindness Project, because throughout this life, I just want to help more people than I hurt.


Members of the Kindness Project:

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