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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Orwig

Witnessing Kindness is a Funny Thing

Updated: Aug 17, 2020

I say funny because sometimes we get so caught up in what we should be doing, and achieving, and being, that seeing a kind act makes us pause and go, “Wow, there are good people still left in the world.” At least, that’s what happened to me Labor Day Weekend.

This year was the first Labor Day Holiday far from relatives. My family was whittled down to three; my mom, dad and I, Our destination was a little lake. Now three is not a bad number, according to Maggie Stiefvator “Three’s, five’s and seven’s are good numbers where as two, four and six are quarreling numbers” (quote can be found somewhere in BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE). But it was much smaller than our usual thirty-three plus (there’s that three again!)

On the way there, I wondered, how long would we stay at the lake? When we return, we’d have to do dinner, clean, get ready for the work week, etc.

But we arrived at the little lake, and I do mean little, really an enlarged pond. You could fit the whole lake in a photo comfortably. It was cozy because of its smallness. The beach butted right against the grass in a gradual slope, trees still vibrantly green grew to the water’s edge, kill deer gave shrieks as they padded along the warming sand, it was very peaceful. We picked our spot, took our seats and proceeded to read, eat, walk the dog, and stick toes in the cool water.

As the day wore on, more people gathered for celebrations. Children’s happy cries erupted, more dogs raced along trails, and people streamed by going to the pavilions to cook out.

This one group of people walked by, headed for a pavilion. Arabic was spoken fluently and with great cheer as they greeted more and more family and friends. The sounds of middle eastern music with pop flares echoed around the park, and stroller after stroller of children were carted along, (some strollers carried watermelons!) as the children raced to join other’s their age. It sounded and looked like so much fun!

Many grills were wheeled over as well, and one grill in particular was giving an older Arabic man trouble. I’ll call him Baba because Baba means papa in Arabic.

In front of us, there was a huge white muscular man with a white woman. I had noticed them earlier because, although Muscle Man could snap friggin’ anything in two, he treated the woman with such love and kindness it was adorable to see such a large person be so expressively-vulnerable with someone half his size.

Now the music from the pavilion was blaring from the speakers, a hookah was brought and was currently being smoked nearby, as a ferocious volleyball tournament raged and more watermelon was carted by.

But Baba's grill wasn't rolling, a wheel appeared to have been broken, and he was struggling. So when the Muscle Man got up and approached the older Baba, I watched to see what was going to happen.

“Here let me help you with that.” Muscle Man said, offering a hand to Baba. They didn't seem to speak each other's languages, but they soon had an understanding as Muscle Man helped to carry the grill and then he returned to his seat when finished, getting a kiss from the woman.

That was nice of him to offer to help, he didn’t have to go out of his way to do that. Any of the grandchildren running around could have stopped and helped, but Muscle Man saw a need and filled it.

Fast forward about an hour later, and Baba comes walking over to Muscle Man and the woman. He held out a plate to the couple.

“This is you. For Help.” He gave the plate to Muscle Man.

It was full of food. The food they had been cooking all afternoon on their grills that smelled deliciously good wafting from the pavilion.

“Awe, you didn’t have to—all I did was help carry the grill.” Muscle Man replied.

“Thank you,” Baba nodded his head, still giving the plate over gleefully. With equal head nodding and thanking, Baba walked back to the party and Muscle Man shared the plate with the woman.

They talked low about how good it was, and how nice it was for them to bring food over. How unexpected.

Watching this all take place a few feet from me was stunning. To see something small, but profound in the way people, just people, can interact at a park, near a tiny lake, on a holiday, was so up-lifting.

I’m glad I was there to see it. I wasn’t the recipient of kindness, but something is funny about kindness, it spreads in ways we never think. Muscle Man and the woman were touched, so was Baba, enough that they broke down the individual barriers of our staked-out spaces to interact.  

 And I, just for watching, became happier after seeing this. Kindness spreads kindness, warmth, happiness.

So now I pose to you, have you seen an act of kindness today? Could you be that act? And by doing so allow others watching to be filled with a sense of goodness, lightness, and the want to help the next who crosses their path?

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