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A Simple Act of Kindness

May 26, 2012

by Stephen Damon

Ever notice how great an effect a simple act of human kindness by a stranger can have on your state of being?  To tell the truth I hadn’t thought about that very much until yesterday when I took my dog on our morning walk.  We were walking around the neighborhood recreation center, which is undergoing a major renovation.  Up ahead of us were two construction workers, speaking in Spanish.  As we got closer, I noticed a heavy pipe was blocking the sidewalk, which made my dog very nervous.  One of the workers smiled, wished us a good morning, and moved the pipe out-of-the-way.  I thanked him very much, but what caught my attention was how my entire body felt thankful. 

Yes, it was a simple act, but it had a great effect on me.  I noticed how the muscles around my chest relaxed, allowing me to breathe more evenly. And I noticed how open I became to everything around me.  I became very aware of the colors of the grass and wildflowers along the park and I became more aware of the sounds of passing cars as well as the bird songs coming out of the trees. I seemed to have a panoramic view of everything within and without me. 

I became very aware of the deep connection between myself and the world around me.  In Buddhist terms, I became aware of the close connection between interdependence and loving kindness.  These are two essential features of the way things are, of reality itself.  I realized that we were all in this together and I couldn’t be happy without the happiness of everyone else.  A simple act of kindness by a construction worker showed me the real fabric of reality: interdependence. As we passed through the debris I bowed to him and thanked him again.  He smiled even more broadly than before.  It was a small moment in time, but it seemed to include everything that had gone before.

Throughout the day I came back to the image of the construction worker holding a heavy pipe in his hands.  And every time I did so, I felt myself open to something deeper in myself. 



From → Zen Buddhism

One Comment
  1. Beautiful post, and very true 🙂

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