Jan 22, 2018

Life This Week 22/1/2018: What Is Kindness?

As someone who is well and truly into her adult years, I'd like to think that I've pretty much gotten the kindness thing sorted.  I know how to speak and act kindly and I also know when a word or an act of kindness has been extended towards me.  But I struggled when it came time to start planning my post for Life This Week. Denyse, it really is a good question to ask - what is kindness?

I started by filling the screen with happy memories of kind things and some photos that illustrated them.  Which was nice but not terribly meaningful.

Then I read Tania's post about Simpler Times.  The wise and reassuring words were just what I needed to read.  They were comforting yet also encouraged me to look at life in a different and more rewarding way.   That's kindness right there.  Being able to tell necessary truths in a considerate way.

Tania linked to this post by Holly Butcher which inspired her thoughts about what really matters in life.  There were even more words of kindness here.  Of telling the sad and confronting in a way that will hopefully inspire us all to change our attitude and priorities in life.

Holly Butcher died at the age of 27 from a rare form of cancer.  Soon after her death earlier this month, Holly's family followed her wishes and posted a message on her Facebook account.  Holly's message is an honest and frank account of what it meant to her to be dying when she still had so much to live for and so much she still had to do with her life.

I know that life is fragile and that is should never be taken for granted but I only know this on a theoretical, almost superficial level.  The kindness in Holly's words is that, again, she's telling us about death and how it is as much a part of life as living is.  Holly wrote with such urgency and frankness that paraphrasing her words is to do them and her an injustice so I'll quote:

I haven’t started this ‘note before I die’ so that death is feared - I like the fact that we are mostly ignorant to its inevitability.. Except when I want to talk about it and it is treated like a ‘taboo’ topic that will never happen to any of us.. That’s been a bit tough. I just want people to stop worrying so much about the small, meaningless stresses in life and try to remember that we all have the same fate after it all so do what you can to make your time feel worthy and great, minus the bullshit.

We're all guilty of this worry and perseveration over the most trivial aspects of our lives, aren't we?  Not surprisingly all that waste of energy and real estate in our headspaces doesn't make a lick of difference to the outcome of whatever it was we were worried about in the first place.  Which isn't to say that there's nothing worth pondering much except death.  We just can't let our anxieties over the minutiae prevent us from appreciating the bigger and more beautiful picture that is life.
Again, in Holly's words:
Those times you are whinging about ridiculous things (something I have noticed so much these past few months), just think about someone who is really facing a problem. Be grateful for your minor issue and get over it. It’s okay to acknowledge that something is annoying but try not to carry on about it and negatively affect other people’s days. 

Once you do that, get out there and take a freaking big breath of that fresh Aussie air deep in your lungs, look at how blue the sky is and how green the trees are; It is so beautiful. Think how lucky you are to be able to do just that - breathe. 
Let all that shit go.. I swear you will not be thinking of those things when it is your turn to go. It is all SO insignificant when you look at life as a whole. I’m watching my body waste away right before my eyes with nothing I can do about it and all I wish for now is that I could have just one more Birthday or Christmas with my family, or just one more day with my partner and dog. Just one more. 
Today is a gift and you've received it as yours to live.

How will you live it?


  1. I tear up at that last bit, just as I did the first time I read the letter. I know how incredibly precious life is. It's easy to be caught up in the day to day and life's stresses, but I try take a moment each day to just be there - appreciate what I have an where my life is and be thankful.

  2. I find it very hard to deal with people who are stressed over small (you might say petty) things. Especially in places such as work where you can't just ignore them or cut them out. People panic to me a lot at work and panic doesn't get my job done. It's a lot of my energy (what feels like wasted) in getting them to calm the flip down and just talk about the issue so I can give them their options. And this is seriously not life or death stuff at my work!

  3. I ABSOUTELY LOVED THAT LETTER. It was a firm reminder that fuck we are so lucky to be here. It's crazy we worry about a messy house or money. Beautiful post xx

    Sarah | More Than Adored

  4. Beautiful post. I had tears in my eyes when I read Holly's facebook message, it was so raw and confronting. I've been practicing gratitude, as I find while living our busy lives we sometimes take for granted the things we own or people who do kind things for us, and not appreciate or be grateful for what we have, and who we have in our lives. I know I need to be much nicer to myself, and give myself a pat on the back more often too :) xx

  5. That was beautiful - I think I've read her words in three or four different places and they are so real because her situation was so grim. I know I fail to appreciate what I have so often and it's a stark reminder to let the little stuff go and just breathe and appreciate this precious life we've been given - thanks for another reminder. PS I struggled to define kindness too - it's strange when it's a word we use so often.


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