To be honest, I really do consider myself a kind person. I’m the girl who throws away her cigarette buds in trash cans instead of littering the ground with it. I’m the girl who will make sure her friend – who is having her first bad trip – gets home safely at 3 am and stays with her till she falls asleep. Not caring about the fact of having to walk all the way home from her house 2 hours later. That’s pretty kind, right? Well I don’t know really. I’ve always wondered why I do those things. Am I truly so intrigued by someone’s small lacks of things, that I feel obliged to give them a hand of recognition as another human being? Or is it just to feed my ego? Is it just something that I need to prove to everyone, including myself? Why do I need to prove anything anyway? Does it all really matter?
Obviously, I have a lot of questions racing in my mind about this. I haven’t really figured out all the answers yet, and I don’t really know if I ever will. All I know is that I’m okay with it. I’m okay with not knowing why I do what I do. Because I know, that either way, I wouldn’t ever want to stop being kind. As long as it’s genuine and connected through gratitude, kindness is always worth my time. There is nothing like showing someone you see them and looking them in the eye to say that they are not alone. It beats breathing any second in the world without it.
The last time that I pursued an act of random kindness was very different from anything ever. My friends and I were on a trip in Berlin. We stayed in a hostel for a few days. This one night I went outside for a smoke with two of my friends and we discovered a man who appeared to be homeless. He was a very slender figure in very large thick coat, his dirty brown hair escaped through the grey beanie that was on his head, and his hands were covered with fingerless gloves. I saw him. He was grasping at this flask in his hand and trying to hold on to his cigarette with his other, but his coordination was visibly off. I didn’t care. Because even though I hadn’t seen his eyes yet, he was crying in my head already, he was crying for counting another night clenching his eyes deep into a flask instead of looking up and seeing a roof over his head. Now I have never known what it is like to live that way. But I have been very close. I have seen what is on the edge of that ridge, and I have fought myself away from it. But I could’ve ended up at the bottom of it. It could’ve been me. He could’ve been me. He once had a mother and a father. Maybe a sister or a brother, maybe both or a couple even. I just thought of how many people would be smiling if I were to help him.
I wondered when he last felt safe or abnormal, or like a creep. I don’t know what happened to me, but next thing I knew, I was on the ground with him. I took care of him getting into his sleeping bag, and my friends offered to put a little food in his bag. So I grabbed my favourite water bottle, filled it up and put it in there with the rest. I couldn’t even understand anything he was saying, other than his paralyzed slurs of heartfelt gratitude. Before going inside, I looked him in the eye and grabbed his face with my hands as if he was my brother. I let him see mine, and as my voice was telling him that it was okay, my eyes were telling him that he was not going to sleep thinking that there is no one in the world who cares how he sleeps at night. And when we went back inside, I felt helpless. I felt so powerless. I thought to myself; I don’t want to live in a world where people get so disconnected with their humanity that the basic human need of having a safe place to put your head to rest is not guaranteed. But it is reality. It’s never been any different, and frankly I don’t think that it’s ever going to change. This all hit me the moment we stepped up the stairs. I teared up, and I completely could’ve lost control over them if my friends hadn’t been there to catch my thoughts and replace them with the connection of the last 20 minutes we spent together aiding a complete stranger.
I regret none of it, or maybe just one thing. I never asked him his name, I would’ve liked to hear it.
So yeah, it made me feel all kinds of things. But the one thing that really stands out to me right now is very profound. I realize now that as long as we keep diving into heartfelt kindness, the world is not left without it.