4 May 2014

Uncovering Kindness

photo: AnneFrank.org

Last week I watched a YouTube clip of the US Capitol’s dedication to a sapling tree on their lawn. This wasn’t just any sapling; it was from the chestnut tree that Anne Frank gazed at while in hiding in the Netherlands during WW2.

What does this have to do with Joe "Wellington"? Not much except he was a kind soul. And because I journaled like crazy growing up thanks to Anne Frank's influence. I wrote about my time in San Francisco. Yet, no mention AT ALL of Joe. Isn't that bizarre?

I’ve always had a fondness for Anne Frank. Her story, her light in the time of such darkness is a reminder not only of an evil time in history, but for all of us to take a step back and appreciate what we have in the moment. Her diary is an inspiration to us to remember that we can control our thoughts and how we look at the situations we're in. Her message of unconditional love, no matter what one is faced with, will forever be at the core of my being.

So what does unconditional love mean? I think it’s a true gift to be able to love and respect someone even if opinions are not in alignment. That's the beauty of friendship. That's the beauty of people, in general. The beauty of life. We learn. We grow. We challenge each other to be better than we already are; we support passions; we encourage happiness; we practice forgiveness; and we provide comfort in times of sadness.

A year ago, I left a job I loved working as an addictions treatment counselor, more specifically, an assessment counselor. Not only did the clients challenge me, but also I discovered great lessons watching colleagues interact with one another. On a daily basis, I was faced with some sort of aggression. It was a very hard job to always wear protective armor to help shield against negativity while maintaining a compassionate stance. Nonetheless, I looked for something about each person that I could admire. And that was how I was able to do my work. Let me be clear that it was not easy. Even the people who spewed hatred my way or didn’t have a sunny disposition, I learned from. They were my teachers. I try to maintain this philosophy on a daily basis, even though I’m not working in the field any longer.

There are people out there who easily dismiss others because they are different from them or they say something that sounds “stupid”, don't agree with their political views, or whatever the reason. The people who cast others aside easily, I find, are perhaps just unable in that moment to allow their own vulnerabilities to surface. They're afraid to pay attention to it because it stirs something in them that causes unrest; not a fault, either. That can also be something to honor. Everyone learns in his or her own time. The perceptions we have about life and others is something that happens organically, at each individual’s own pace. It’s not something that can be forced.

Anne Frank, living in turmoil, was blessed to have a mature insight into humanity at such a young age. It was a necessity for her to seek solace in trusting that something greater than all of THIS is in charge. She held on to her faith that there is goodness out there and that we will all be taken care of. 

And she coped by writing. Her writing was her best friend.

Practice kindness. Anne’s story reminds me that kindness should be the foundation of our existence. Realistically, I don’t know if this is possible. As imperfect humans, we react either positively or negatively. What if, then, we just don’t react? What if we remain unattached to all things, even our interactions with others? I’m not suggesting inaction, I’m saying just remain neutral, honest, and open in our engagements. What if we just let things be instead of trying to control the outcome?
I’m going to challenge myself to let things be as they may and only be responsible for my feelings and actions, always with a kind heart.

Thank you, Anne Frank for helping me uncover my kindness. And thank you for allowing me this space to ramble. 

p.s. Where is Joe Wellington?