It’s not easy, is it?

April 18, 2020

It’s not easy, is it?

I’m afraid I don’t have any advice on “ten Tibetan dialects to discover in your new found spare time” or “using Zoom to learn how to knit tank tops from potato peelings” or a “5 step plan to becoming a bookshelf influencer”.

I’m just another nobody with a keyboard and an intermediate strength Linked-in profile.

To be honest the first words that enter my conscious mind each morning are “fuck me, oh well, let’s put the kettle on”. I accept that it lacks the concise majesty of “Keep Calm and Carry On”, but if anyone wants to take “fuck me, oh well, let’s put the kettle on” as an inspirational slogan for home printed tea towels, please feel free to have it.

However, I don’t mean to be flippant either. We all know people who are struggling just now; and one of them might be looking back at you in the mirror. The overwhelming feeling I have every day is that I am helpless to do much, and whatever I do is not enough. It isn’t comfortable.

It’s not easy, is it?

I welcome the opportunity to clap for carers, I want to be a good citizen, I want to look back with some pride on the way I responded to these extraordinary times. Yet for large parts of each day I feel weighed down by the loss of connection with people I care about, and just plain inadequate when seeing the daily heroic humanity of carers, nurses and doctors.

I don’t have school age children and that adds a whole new level of respect and marvel for those who do in these pandemic times. It also makes me feel guilty. How dare I grumble about not being able to have “big” meetings in London, when dear, dear friends have to provide their kids with stimulation, optimism and the strength to carry on, before they themselves have had a chance brush their teeth or give a scintilla of thought to their working-from-home day ahead.

It’s not easy, is it?

So, come on Paul, stop feeling sorry for yourself and say something useful.

The problem, however, for me is I know that words alone just bounce off me. You cannot jolly-me-along with a bit of bantz or “interesting” insights if the feelings that have got inside my head don’t want me to play with the words.

So, I am not going to pretend to you or to myself that I can jolly anyone along with a few hundred words now. Our feelings win.

However, feelings which take us low must also compete with feelings that bring us back, and we can all help each other create those feelings without any need for a Government press conference to tell us how. And this is the point of these 700 words I am sharing with you now.

We cannot always be clever, or insightful, or heroic. Sometimes we will give up or fail and crack. Sometimes crying is what we must do.

But, …and it is a big fucking “but” …WE CAN ALL BE KIND.

Kindness cuts through. Kindness is the smallest noticing of someone else’s need. A nod, a wave, a smile, a suggestion, an offer, a thought, a simple acknowledgement, all manner of gentle almost-nothings that make us human and offer a drop of hope for a world where the storm is still swirling.

Thank goodness for heroes, but thank goodness for kindness too. There will always be a need for kindness and there is never a shortage of opportunity to be kind.

We are not invisible when people are kind. We are not alone when we are noticed. We can be in the light that others shine if our light has temporarily dimmed. I love that something that can be so small defines something that is so big. It is far more in reach than discovering Tibetan dialects, and it comes wrapped in the gift of hope.

Making a difference for a lucky few will mean discovering vaccines or designing cheaper ventilators or nursing our loved ones when we cannot be there for them. Making a difference for the lucky many will be the moments of kindness we offer one another, friend or stranger.

It’s not easy, is it? But with kindness we give each other hope that we will find our way through.

Take care. Paul x


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