On Remembering Small Kindnesses

I want to tell you this before I forget it. Because I forget these things too easily. So, here’s what happened:

The weather Tuesday evening was cold, harsh wind. The kind where you stick your hands in your pockets, put your head down, and go forward fast. And if you saw me walking up the street a little before 6:00, that’s exactly what I was doing.

I was late to meet a friend, but it would be even later now because I needed to put quarters in the meter. I turned right onto the street where I was parked, sped up to the meter, took out my change purse. And then heard someone cry, “Don’t!”

I turned. About 20 feet away was this young man with his bare hand making a stopping motion in the harsh air.

“Don’t!” He said again. “Don’t put too many quarters in. The meters stop at 6pm.” He put his bare hand back into his pocket. “I try to tell people when I see them doing it and it’s near six.”

I thanked him. Then he went where he was going and I went where I was going.

The story could end there. A small kindness easily forgotten. But why? I’ve let too many small kindnesses slip out of my memory, replaced with grievances and grudges and just bigger stuff. And, you know, I think I’ve done enough of that.

So, I will work to honor these small kindnesses, retell them, hold them up, remember to pass them on whenever I can. I will line my memory with them.

And when the world feels cold and harsh, as it can sometimes, I will not have forgotten that there are these small kindness in it, too.

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