Small kindnesses.

This morning, I was texting with an old friend who sent me the best wish I’ve gotten in ages:

“I hope you’re finding some oxygen somehow.”

Stress is real and takes a toll. The world is very scary right now for very many people. The world has been very scary for a very long time for very many people.

The world remains a kinder place to me than it is to most. Still, I am struggling to come up for air. I am frightened and disheartened. Everything feels like it’s coming apart at the stitches.

I am lucky enough that I can practice self-care as I try to catch my breath. I can turn my phone off at a job I am lucky to have. I can drive to my church and worship freely and safely. I can exercise and care for my body. I can nap in a warm bed.

Right now, self-care isn’t enough for many of my friends and neighbors. Our communities are held together by small kindnesses. The tiny motions that you could just as easily not make. Connection and community are forms of resistance — a collective power that cannot be taken away from us.

Small kindnesses aren’t complicated or hard, but they create tiny bright spots in hard days. The car that slows down to let me merge into traffic. The person who holds my spot in the line in a crowded Trader Joe’s because I forgot just one little thing. The stranger who calls after me: “Hey, did you drop this?”

Right now, this is my resistance. The big things matter, and I am doing those, too — the protests, the direct action, the letters, the phone calls. But in the face of orders meant to divide and alienate and sow discord, I am doing the small things, too.

Trying to be in the world with love.

It’s so easy to feel small and ineffective in the face of upheaval and sweeping injustice. That’s the trick. I am small. And I can do small things. But there are a lot of us out here, small people capable of doing many small things.

Here is a short list small things I recommend, having either done them or benefitted from them:

  • If you drive, yield to a pedestrian when it isn’t totally necessary.
  • Send a card to a friend in the mail. Maybe to someone having a hard time. Maybe just to say hi.
  • Hold the door while standing aside instead of just pushing it back to the person behind you.
  • Smile at someone.
  • Notice when someone has done a small kindness for you. Say thank you.
  • Send a text to someone just to see how they are.
  • Put your phone away when you’re with someone else.
  • Give a genuine compliment.
  • Reach out to someone you haven’t heard from in a while, even if you were the last one to reach out.
  • Salt and shovel your sidewalk if you live somewhere snowy.
  • Don’t take the best parking spot or seat on the bus.
  • Just treat people like they have inherent dignity and are worthy of respect (because they are).

This is the world’s least exhaustive list. Share your small kindnesses.

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