Perhaps I have been reading too much Buddhist or meditation literature, or it could be I know a lot of people who are going through a tough patch, but kindness has been weighing on my mind.
Being kind to one another is a simple task and it doesn’t have to elaborate. Sometimes a smile can mean the world of difference to another person. Take for example, a couple weeks ago when I was in Chicago. I was walking through a store, it was cold outside and everyone was pretty well bundled up and miserable. I saw a man and a woman walking together, the woman seemed to be mulling something over in head and distracted. Our eyes connected for a brief moment and I smiled at her. Her face instantly transformed from serious and contemplative to genuinely happy. I will never know what she was thinking or what her circumstances were, but at that moment right after I smiled at her she was happy. It could even be as easy as sending a quick email or text to a friend asking how their day is.
The same is true of animals. I was mowing the grass over the weekend and I saw a snake slithering in front of the mower. [Let me preface this story by saying, I don’t like snakes, they super creep me out] I stopped the mower and started walking towards where I last saw it, because I didn’t want to accidentally run over it. I found the poor little thing and it was scared (I could actually see it breathing fast and it kept raising its head off the ground), so I decided to get a stick and try to move it out of the path of the mower (it was small harmless garter snake about 8-10 inches long and super skinny). Eventually, after a lot of work, we got the silly little thing out of harms way. I set my fear of snakes aside to keep from injuring the poor defenseless animal (The same would not have happened if said snake were dangerous. I would have high tailed it out of there). It is much easier to show kindness to a fluffy little creature, though I am sure that little snake appreciated not getting injured.
As a writer, I find kindness essential. When I submit my work to beta-readers or an editor, I expect a certain level of kindness to their critiques. At times I am disappointed by the lack of kindness in the response. I think it’s because the reader gets so engrossed in helping the writer make their story better, they forget that heart and soul were poured into making the story.
We, as critics, are focused on those words and how to make them better, we forget about the person responsible for them. I know the critics are trying their best to be professional and objective, but sometimes a touch of kindness goes a long way. So, the next time you agree to beta read a story for a writer, remember kindness…. you never know how close that writer is to giving up.
The next A to Z Challenge post is on Laziness