I have experienced great kindness in my life. The type of kindness that makes you simultaneously weep and squirm because you think, “oh, God, she saw me.” Because that’s what it takes I think. I don’t have much patience for niceness, though I’ve become pretty damn good at it. Niceness is about happy faces and not ruffling feathers and Sunday best. It’s about getting something in return. It’s about getting to you like me. And sometimes it’s about a little girl trying to become invisible in hopes that the moment will pass.

I think that kindness might be about courage and strength and truth. I think it might be about freedom — the freedom to say who I am, what I stand for, and choosing to seek good. To be and to offer. It’s about living in the tension of vulnerability and safety and choosing to give and to hold sacred. It’s not about being a pushover or taking whatever comes my way. Kindness is about the gut-wrenching, freeing work of saying over and over again, “I see you and I see me and I choose to be and to give and to hold and to make space.” Even to myself. Especially to myself.

Kindness takes practice. It takes courage and presence, and I have a tendency to be nice. It’s true — I have experienced so much wrong in my life, so much loss, and I wonder, what do I do with this? How do I live? But I’ve also experienced such kindness. People sitting with me, for seconds, for years, and saying, “I see you, here’s some space, just be.” And then I remember. That’s the kind of person I want to be. I’m fighting the feeling that to be kind is to be soft. That to be vulnerable is to be soft. That to be hard is to be safe. I think choosing to be kind might not be soft or hard — I think it might be badass.

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