Perhaps one of the most underrated and most needed qualities of our time. The smile to a stranger, the sharing of a glance. Then the acts —of conversation, courage, concern and generosity.
A stranger stopped me on the street yesterday. He just wanted to talk. He told me about swifts, about how amazing their flight patters are, how they never land, how their nests need to be high. He told me that with all these cottage renovations going on, how their habitats are in danger, and how he is building nests in his garden for them. His eyes spoke of the miracle we are all in. Kindness.
Another man stopped me yesterday. He spoke of the plastics problem, how they are a scourge and how he is trying to clean up his act. He is using less, planting more, getting involved in some local action to stop the construction of a plastics factory. He was full of sacred rage. Kindness.
A friend opened up her garden to me. She is growing an edible paradise. She led me around the beds, telling me about all her planting tricks and all the wonder. I left with an armful of cuttings and a stack of new learning. Kindness.
Another friend, who has knowledge of foraging, brings me out to find some treasure. The elderflower are in bloom. I whisper thank you to the trees, then take a share. My fridge is full of cordial now, to be passed down the line of neighbours and friends.
I am sitting up on a headland, looking out to sea. Milly comes by my side, and leans in. Her weight is company and companionship. Kindness.
And then, perhaps one of the greatest kindnesses of all. I am seeing a negative thought pattern begin to spread its tendrils in my mind. I pause. I go for a nap instead. Finally, finally, I think I am beginning to learn. Kindness.
What if the currency of the world was kindness? What then for the swifts and the oceans, the stranger and the friend? What then for the wanderings of our minds? What then for the opening of our hearts?