And since doing so, I’ve come across a list of real resolutions that made me want to be a better person, and a better writer. Read those here. (And while you’re at it, check out tons of essays and such at Thought Catalog - they have some amazing writers contributing to the site.)
More than anything, in 2012, I charge you to be kind. And to appreciate the kindness of others. Sounds simple, right? Well, it is. But the problem is that we so often pay attention to the bad things out there, the meanness. We rant and rave, and we are quick to write a bad review or ask to see a manager when service is poor... but how often do we take the time to write a note of gratitude when it isn't out of obligation from receiving a gift?
My first post on The Uncontainable Truth was about how Mean People Suck. Today, I want to talk about how Kind People Make the World Go ‘Round.
So let me tell ya a little bit about Christmas 2011.
It was a doozy. This was the first year my family (consisting of my parents and Grandmother) was coming to Tennessee, and we had tons of plans for things to do, food to eat, and all the merriment that goes along with Christmas when you don’t have any little ones around. We were going to Opryland! Brunch at Monel’s! Honky Tonkin’! (Not really, but I was still pushing for it.) A few days before the trip, my mother got sick, and could not make it up. Because my sister had to work, my dad and grandma left her in good hands with other family, and they made the trek themselves so we weren't alone. All was as well as could be until Christmas Eve, when my grandmother had such bad angina, that we found ourselves in the Emergency Room. (She was OK in the end... this isn't that kind of story.) They put her in overnight for observation, much to our dismay, but promised she’d be back at home by Christmas Evening. Not the case. Nor was it the next day. She wound up staying in the hospital all the way through the Tuesday following Christmas.
On Christmas Day, I was not happy. In fact, I was devastated. I was irate. Why can’t anything go right? I thought (and probably yelled). I even got snappy with Helga, her nurse. Why does my poor grandma, who has been sooo looking forward to this, have to spend the holidays in the hospital? Woe is me. Woe is her. Blahblahblah. It’s easy to do. You know it is.
My grandmother wound up being the one to console ME. And do you know what she said? That if she wasn't going to be with her family or friends for Christmas, she couldn't have been in better hands.
And that’s when I sat back, looked past my dismay, and saw what she did... so many kind faces and kind hearts taking care of her. I was being a brat, and yet, the nurses taking care of her treated her like family. Called my dad, my sister, and me regularly to update us, and did so with kindness in their voices, not annoyance. On Christmas Eve, a day that I would have expected the best of medical professionals to be a bit bitter about working, not a sole acted like they wanted to be anywhere else except there making sure my grandmother was ok. Even though I’d been ugly to Helga, she smiled when she saw me and took my side in a silly banter between Grandma and me over whether I’m ready to get a puppy. And when they finally dismissed her, they hugged her goodbye, and hugged me as well.
These were the kind of caregivers who truly cared. It was as if Heaven itself had opened up and sent them to my family in a time when things weren’t so nice elsewhere. And it’s an experience I will not forget. (If anyone is curious, this was at Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, and most specifically the ER and the Cardiac Care Unit.)
People pass along those cheesy sayings all the time... to always be nice because you never know what someone is going through. And ain’t it really the truth? I can attest that pure kindness, respect for humanity with the underlying knowledge that we are ALL equal, all God’s children... can make the world of difference.
One of my favorite Christmas gifts this year was It’s Not Easy Being Green, a compilation of quotes by or about Jim Henson. (I highly recommend reading it, savoring it, even. It's a true gem of a little, tiny coffee table book.)
You may not know much about Jim besides his creation of the Muppets and the many other worlds his amazing mind came up with, but he was also known for being kind. And for standing up for the little guys and the outcasts (that’s why he made so many diverse characters in his shows). So much of the book was about this.
And while I’m not saying that everyone needs to go out there and create TV shows, or start revolutions (poignant, as we have just celebrated Martin Luther King’s birth), I want to be remembered as a positive force one day. As someone who smiles and laughs instead of sulks. So if you do nothing else in 2012, I charge you with this resolution: Smile more, laugh often, and for Heaven’s sake... be kind.
Like Ma Otter says, in Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas (one of Henson's first movies):
Some say the world is getting too small I say with kindness There’s room for us all Our world is always changing Every day’s a surprise Love can open your eyes In our worldWhen night lays sad upon you Go watch a laughing sunrise Love can open your eyes In our world -Ma Otter