The Art of Being Kind



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Perry Grone/Unsplash

“Why you don’t sell or take back your stuff? Maybe you need them in the future?”

I looked at my stuff in my apartment in New York City. One big plastic bag of quinoa rice. New one. Never been used. One box of eggs. A-grade 24 eggs. Three bottles of Indonesian chilies. Never been used. Sweet soya sauce bottle. One big bottle of salt. One bottle of pepper. One big bottle of olive oil. Three plates. Several spoons, forks, and knives. Chopping board. Spatula. Frying pan. Water bottle. And many more.

“You can sell and get money from them,” my friend reminded me again. But I shook my head. I donated a lot of my stuff when leaving Lincoln and now, I would do it again.

“I am gonna give for free for friends, or anyone who needs them.”

I am not trying to look nice here, but throughout my life, I get a lot of help from many people. Their kindness is nothing compared to these stuff I give. Borrowed laptop and bag for reporting, free place to stay for a week when arriving at New York or when arriving back at Lincoln, jobs when I needed some extra money,  free foods from my seniors at my workplace, free luggage when I needed one because mine was broken, and money for my education.  These people give and never ask for a return. Sometimes, I wonder why some of them can become so kind and so willing to give to strangers. This act of kindness is a rare gem nowadays where people are so drawn into materialistic things.

I still remember what one of my supervisors said to me several years ago when I started my first job as a young editor. It happened when we were walking to a warehouse to meet with some marketing staff.

“Utami, don’t be too kind. People, especially in big cities, will manipulate and use you if you are being too nice to people. My Mother always reminds me of this: just make friends with people who can benefit you. I give but you give, too. Look at Ruth (not real name). She is too kind and everyone is just using her for this and that. Don’t be stupid like that.”

He was a nice supervisor even though he seemed so distant from most of the employees. Maybe because he had that kind of paradigm.

But I never count kindness. I never give something to someone because I see that someone can give me something, too. I am happy of being able to give.

At that time, his words seemed very wrong. I did not say anything to him, and only nodded.  But months later, I realized some truths of his saying. What I understand is more like this: What is the value of you being kind? Is it being kind to educate others? Is it being kind because you only want to be perceived as kind person (self-ego) despite of what may be impacted? Is it being kind because you really want to help that person in need? Is it because it is so essential at that time that you can really make a change in someone else’s life if you give or being kind? Or is it only to make people…. LIKE YOU?

The important thing is being kind with an awareness, so your action of being kind will have a valuable meaning for your life and not merely fulfilling your self-ego of ‘I just wanna be kind person.’ because I want other to accept me, to love me.

At another time, some people have said to me. “Oh wow, you’re so lucky. You had a borrowed laptop from your professor.”

Let me explain this way. If I am this professor, who has several laptops, and I know that one of my students, the diligent one, the smartest one, the one who is working harder than any other students, is having difficulties to finish his or her work because his or her laptop is damaged, I would lend that student a laptop, too, so that he or she can work, can create something, can make great pieces. However, if there is a lazy and ignorant student asked me to borrow my laptop for doing nothing, probably I would think twice. This is what I mean by being kind with an awareness.

At another time, my previous roommate in Lincoln often said to me, “Use anything in the kitchen that you want (in terms of spices).” She said that because she knew that I would use her stuff in a considerable manner. And that I was also willing to let her use my stuff and we liked to share one another. She would probably not say that if I were an irresponsible roommate who would take advantage of her words and used all of her stuff without buying some with my own money.  She is being kind because she trusts me and is comfortable with me and that I would not exploit her kindness by finishing all of her spices. She is being kind in a moderate manner.

 

 

 

 

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