Welcome! This is a place to share how we celebrate & deepen our relationship to Nature. Here you will find stories, images, & ideas about wilderness, human nature, & soulfulness. Drawing from the experiences of everyday living, the topics on this blog include: forays into the natural world, the writing life, community service, meditation, creativity, grief & loss, inspiration, & whatever else emerges from these. I invite you on this exploration of the wild within & outside of us: the inner/outer landscape.

29 June 2018

Kindness, Overt or Quiet

Two weeks ago, I heard about a global event that was beginning the following day. It is called “A Melee of Kindness” (AMOK, for short), hosted by a nonprofit called Random Acts. This year their challenge to do acts of kindness was extended to four weeks (June 16-July 15).

Spontaneously, I jumped aboard the idea. 

I read their webpage about AMOK, perused their site to see the various great projects they support, and then I saw that they were requesting participants in AMOK to daily post their acts of kindness

Though already committed to the idea of offering kind acts, this particular “public sharing” aspect of it really disturbed me. I love the privacy of simply doing something and keeping it to myself. I hesitated, over and over again, before making my first public post about the kindness I’d offered. It just felt like bragging or as if I were inviting kudos for what I’d done. 

But I also realized that there is an accountability to posting: 

It supports the nonprofit, Random Acts, by calling out their organization every day for a month. 
It offers encouragement to others participating in the kindness challenge. (I received the kindness of such a note from somebody the other day.)
It inspires still others to be more kind, or to pay attention to kindnesses received. 
It is humbling. 

I have been thoughtful about this process as I go through it:

ruminating about the distinction between civility and kindness
We ought to be good and decent and caring about one another. So, are tiny everyday acts like holding a door for someone, smiling at a stranger, helping someone clean up a mess in a public space (what I would consider basic civility) actually “kindnesses” too? Or is kindness bigger? Smaller? Sometimes the same as being respectful, helpful, courteous?

noticing that the habit of deeper kindness is beginning to take hold 
I wake up wondering how I will be of greater and more unique kindness to people I encounter (or seek out) that day. 

concerned about this melee not being as positively contagious (inspiring to others) as I had hoped
I know there is ample kindness out there: people doing extraordinarily kind acts for others every day…and I imagined that some people would want to join in the fun of the challenge, perhaps even post about a kindness offered or received. 

creatively coming up with new or different types of kind acts than I usually do on a regular basis
I frequently feel free, for example, to offer kudos to others for a job well-done; I don't often consider signing a petition (even for issues I feel strongly about). 

working to stretch my comfort zone
Still, the most powerfully difficult stretch has been the daily posting of kindness per Random Acts’ request. I realized that I would rather post about lovingkindnesses, though - even my own kind acts, embarrassing as that is to me—in hopes of tipping the balance away from the aggression I see out there. 

This has all led me to the following: 

For the second half of the melee (from July 1-15), I will be posting just one kind act I’ve done per day; but I will add to my posts one or more kind acts that I see others doing. I know there is an abundance of lovingkindness out there and I want to call it out!

All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2018 JenniferJWilhoit/TEALarbor stories. AllRightsReserved."