"Well the first days are the hardest days. Don't you worry anymore. 'Cause when life looks like easy street there is danger at your door. Think this through with me. Let me know your mind. Wo - o, what I want to know, is are you kind."
These are the opening lines from "Uncle Johns Band," a Grateful Dead tune written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter. Jerry certainly seemed like a kind soul. The Dead had/have an aura of kindness swirling about them. Bob Weir can get a little contentious at times but I think that weird macrobiotic diet of his has a lot to do with it. The guy's hungry. Somebody give him a cheeseburger! Are you kind? Am I kind? How important is kindness? It's only everything. I just had my sixtieth birthday and this idea of being kind that's dashed in and out of my consciousness for most of my adult life has finally taken root. Maybe reality TV and CNN's nightly visions of man's inhumanity to man has guided some synaptic pathways to zig instead of zag towards an area of enlightenment. I definitely......feel more.
When I was a kid I was always the guy who went back to the guy we were just pickin' on and tried to convince him we were just messin' with him and then hang out for a while. A conscience is a vile thing. I never wanted to really hurt anyone. I don't know if I put out that vibe or if it was really there. I had a reputaion for being tough but never got into fights; for being smart but was, on a good day, a solid C student; for being athletic but was mediocre at best. It depended on what group I was hanging with and who was the recipient of the vibe. I easily wound my way through the jocks, the freaks, the geeks etc. The geeks were good for tutoring when needed, the jocks were always good for some football, baseball or....protection if needed. The freaks were a lot of fun on the weekend. And I like to think I brought a little something to the party. It was always weird when I'd be out with one group and run into another group. I was a musician all through junior high school and high school and different groups would converge at my gigs on the weekend. At break time I'd have a little Carter/Begin/Sadat thing going. Detante was alive and well at Friendship Hall. One of my chess club pals actually started dating one of my cheerleader pals! To their credit they didn't give a hoot about public opinion and had a pretty good high school run. I can't really say I thought much about it at the time. It all just seemed natural.
I've hurt people in my life. Unintentionally. That's something that can wear you down. An early life lesson is this. It's a lot easier to get over being hurt than to get over hurting. I can still bring up a memory of a girl I broke up with in ninth grade and feel an unpleasant pang. But then I think of a girl who broke my heart when I was twenty and.....nothing! It's all about forgiveness; for yourself ....and others. Is it easy? No. Necessary? Hell to the yes!!
Kindness. It's how you carry yourself and react to situations. Is it better to ignore the drunk who's requested Freebird for the tenth time at the top of his lungs and is hitting on your girlfriend the whole night? Taking him outside may give you some momentary pleasure. But it's not like the movies. These situations can also involve police and hospitals. Bad karma. That doesn't mean there aren't times. There are. Then it's back to the wall and no holds barred mother &#*#%^!! But it's so much more pleasant to let someone think they won......when you know the truth.
The older I get (Did I mention I just turned sixty?) the easier it is to smile and walk away. Good karma. Did you ever see "My Name Is Earl?" It's about a guy who's done some bad things, has an epiphany, makes a list of all the people he's wronged and spends his life trying to bring his own karma back into alignment. Karma almost becomes a character. Hijinks ensue, lessons are learned and I'm not sure how it turned out 'cause I only see the occasional rerun. It's worth a quick You Tube watch.
You've heard,"Why do bad things happen to good people?" On the other hand why do good things happen to bad people? I have to believe it all shakes out in the end. Where the end is............?
Kindness. One little bit of it from us can make such a difference to some one else. The Grateful Dead have always let fans record their shows. They even had/have a special area set up near the soundboard just for the taping community. "Mics in the air....gentlemen start your recorders!" Thanks Jerry. You'll know your opportunity when it presents itself. You don't have to be Mother Teresa. I'm sure even mother Teresa had days when it was tough to be Mother Teresa; when she'd yell at someone,"Hey ....go do it yourself slacker.......what am I....Mother Teresa?!?! Oh............um......yeah......my bad."
Our world is so contained. The office. The highway. The supermarket. The home. Friends. Relatives. Wives. Husbands. Kids. Here's your assignment. Try to let a random act of kindness sneak into each day this week. Man, it'll make you feel good. Just keep it to yourself and enjoy the glow. I'll bet..............Hey....what the.... Some idiot's trying to snatch my parking space. "GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE YOU *#%$^& &^*# *#$% #$^*#*^!!!!!!!!!!!......" Uh....gotta go. Peace.