Because life is better with kindness…
With difficultly hearing and a throbbing in my head, I found my frightened and confused eight-year-old little self in a strange and unfamiliar place – a hospital ward. I was about to be removed from my offending tonsils and adenoids. There I was, cast adrift from my familiar world, in a place that smelt weird and felt cold, despite the heating offered. Bewildered, and with a throat on fire, I awoke to the terrifying thought, “Where on earth am I?” Then I looked around and saw a kindly nurse sitting next to my bed. She offered me a glass of water, and then placed a cool flannel over my burning forehead and spoke soothing words. I will never, ever, forget her kindness.
Since that day, the power of kindness has never been lost on me. A kindly smile, a simple gesture, a helping hand. Kindness is a gentle strength that dwells within us all, and just like our muscles, the more we exercise it, the more it will grow, and the benefits that flow are many fold, bettering lives, relationships and indeed the world.
As a wee tot, I can still remember my mum whispering “be kind” as my hand stretched out to pet our family cat, Tiny – sage words that still guide my hand and heart today. They are words that sit with me in those lonely hours of the morning in our heated nursery, as the day before surrenders to the next and a frightened ewe lies prone on the ground, unable to rise. My weary hand gently strokes her face, knowing that for the first time in her life she is finding out just what kindness feels like. They are words that ride on my shoulder as I lower my stance before a terrified goat and gently offer my outstretched hand and heart and say, “It’s ok”, because I know it will soon be. They are words that are felt by a world-weary old wether in the winter of his years as he is blanketed in my love as I offer the words “God speed” and he closes his eyes one last time. They are words that guide my hand as I delicately place a gastric tube down the throat of a little lamb so weak and cold they cannot feed, pouring life and sustenance into their stomach and soul. They are words that become me in every interaction I have with animals, for the one thing I have come to recognise in them all, despite their stark physical differences and circumstances, is that every being who treads, swims or flies upon this earth wants, needs, deserves and responds to kindness. Because although we may look different on the outside, on the inside we are the same.
So, this Be (extra) Kind To Animals Week (October 1–7), wherever you are, whoever you may be, please come on board and help make kindness contagious. I guarantee you will feel better for it, because life really is better with kindness.