“They’re doing the best they can….” I said.
“Are they? Are the really doing the best that they can?.....” She said.
A question that clearly had answered itself in her mind, as she silently criticized atop her invisible pedestal. The response struck me. The way that a sudden side ache does, sharp, deep and unexpected. We watched as the line of people ahead of us sort of lethargically crossed off less than desirable items on their to-do list, mid-workday. Clearly crunched for time, while certain obligations trumped lunch breaks. One juggled a baby on her hip, feeding him convenience store snacks, begging the clerk to just “work with her” on a payment plan….while another languishly paced, looking down at the ground as if his presence was an apology, his jeans hanging one size too heavy, just like his heart.
I couldn’t see it any other way, they were doing the best they could. I reached back through my index of “this is the best I’ve fucking got,” moments and the mere memory of some made me cringe, considering outsiders were likely scrutinizing when all I needed was a little, nudge and a wink to remind me that this isn’t all of it. This is just a blink. When someone says, “You’re going to get through it,” or at the very least, “we’re going to make the best of it,” you start considering that maybe they’re telling you the truth. Just as when someone fears for you, you think, “well maybe they know something I don’t.” Because, truly, even at the pit of despair, something in us and outside of us wants to believe that it gets better. That finding joy and levity is accessible, not mutually exclusive.
They were doing the best they could. There's a sort of meanness sweeping beneath the surface of our interactions, that we forget from being do disconnected with a screen in front of us how to treat human beings when we’re face to face. When we compare our BEST with the best of others, we’ve already missed the assignment.
Doing the best you can sometimes means getting from point A to point B in one piece. Or remembering to brush your damn hair. Sometimes the best you've got is simply showing up. When you're thriving and firing on all cylinders, flawlessly juggling and feeling like you've finally figured something out...is the time to be even more humble, even more gracious and empathetic. We can all do better, be better, work harder, or do the internal work to get there...but in doing all of that and thinking we are better than anyone else negates all of the above.
People respond to kindness. We’re craving it. We want to share and like and comment when we see something that makes our hearts swell. We just don’t always know how to take our craving for tenderness into the 3D realm. It’s too vulnerable, it’s too, for lack of a better term fragile. To express your desire for basic humanity and sympathy requires a certain level of exposure and sincerity….in a digital time when everything can be manipulated before sharing, exposure and sincerity without a fourth wall feels entirely too powerless for most. So, the cycle perpetuates itself.
Disclaimer: Now, don't think that by being kind means being a doormat either, my friends. Respond with fierceness where necessary. Being kind is not to be confused with being naive, or powerless. ( Unkind people, take note.)
We’ve all done it, more unconsciously than not, when you go out into public and place judgement as a defense mechanism, or as a way to connect on the lowest frequency. Jokes at the expense of others. Misery looking for company to drag down and snuggle up to. Posture for the sake of making people believe we actually have our shit together, more than they do of course. Separation is the simple most unaccountable stance we can take to avoid action, responsibility and empathy.
It's so easy to unknowingly react with judgment on a daily basis and it's these individual interactions, on a singular level that either make people feel good or keep people down.
Be gentle, look people in the eye. Consider that perhaps they’re just going through something and they’ve been somewhere, just like we have. Acknowledge; I feel you, I get it, I SEE YOU, I hear what you’re saying….I understand, you’ll be okay. You don’t have to throw yourself into a tornado of drama, or try to individually mend everyones problems- you don’t have to get involved, period. We figure out our shit when we we’re ready to. Just be supportive, just be kind. Reserve your judgement and consider it a signal that there may be some part of you that could use some softening or healing, too.
I think we could all handle just a little more love this holiday season. Kiss, kiss.
What kindness have you witnessed lately?