I've come to realise that the thing I most value in life is kindness.
Kindness is respect and love, intertwined.
Kindness is choosing
to think outside ourselves,
being aware of the consequences of our actions,
thinking how others might feel about the things we say and do.
Kindness is choosing not to bring suffering onto others.
Kindness is compassion.
But kindness isn't soft, no sir. Kindness isn't pink and Hallmarky. There are no kittens and bows on my kindness card!
My kindness has muscles and steel and strength. My kindness asks me to rise above a moment when I'm tempted to be snarky to someone, or say things about someone behind their back.
My kindness asks me to say sorry, to own the moments where I've been wrong.
It involves choosing paths that are sometimes difficult or different from the norm.
My kindness has me saying no to choices that cause another living thing to suffer pain or fear.
Sometimes I think if all anyone ever chose in life was to be kind, the simplest path would open up in front of them.
You would see it, ribboning out. It would glow. And whenever you were faced with a choice, you could say, Which is the kindest? And so your life would be laid out in easy pieces, the yellowest, finest, brick-est road.
It seems so simple, some days.
But a couple of months ago I had to make a hard decision. This one was tricky.
In order to be kind to myself, I had to possibly disappoint and hurt someone else. For years, I'd let myself be part of a situation that caused me suffering because I wanted to be nice. I thought that was the kindest choice. I thought kindness meant I had to sacrifice my own happiness and wellbeing.
But that's not what I mean by being kind.
Kindness is recognising that sometimes the person you have to nurture is yourself. And if you're honest about that, if you take ownership of your own needs and wellbeing, and you are clear and you are gentle, then that isn't cruel. It's being true.
And truth is the white-hot core of kindness. Not the "truth" people use when being judgemental or pushing their agenda, knowing it'll hurt someone else. But truth that comes without malice or words that bite. Truth that's filled with compassion for others. Truth that respects, loves, and honours other living things with a fiery, steady light you can see for miles.
Kindness is all these things of beauty
held together in two hands,
Kindness is a living thing;
you can feel its pulse beating against your fingers,
along and into your skin.
Do you feel it? It beats as you beat.
It has your heart.