The world is heavy right now.
Every time I turn on the TV or tap into social media, I’m met with shock, sadness, anger, fear, and hate. All justified emotions, especially in light of current events happening between Russia and the people of Ukraine.
My heart hurts for those whose lives have literally been turned upside down in mere days.
My heart hurts for the helplessness I feel, the inability to help those in need.
Sometimes those heavy feelings are like boulders weighing down our spirits, making even the most common tasks of living and loving feel nearly unbearable. We get caught in the muck and the mire, making it easy to forget that there is good in the world happening simultaneously.
As many of you know, I’ve been dabbling in the world of TikTok, trying to stretch myself a bit to record videos, capturing small moments in my day-to-day world. I don’t have a lot of followers, but I do follow many others.
What I love about this platform is the refined algorithm – when you watch and follow kind people, you tend to see more kind videos show up in your feed. That means that when I tap into this app, instead of being inundated with obnoxious or crass content with each swipe, I’m actually met with a host of creators sharing their lives with kindness and authenticity.
My kind of people.
I’ve connected with many people from a space of wanting to learn more: college admissions officers sharing their perspectives, authors sharing their passions, even funeral directors sharing their processes. I follow people of color and those who belong to religious faiths that are different than mine. I follow hospice nurses. Stay-at-home moms. Dancers. Singers. Doctors. Lawyers. Educators. Grandmas.
Every person I follow has a lesson to share that can make me a better person, too.
One of the gals I’ve been following for several months is a creator named Jessica who recently made the decision to stop treatment for her terminal illness, allowing hospice to provide comfort care for the time that remains. Her video, sharing that decision with the world, touched me deeply as it brought back memories of my mother-in-law (Bonnie) and my backyard neighbor (Ashton), who were both on hospice care for an extended amount of time.
It also reminded me of my mom, who only received hospice care for 24 hours before she passed away.
As Jessica made this transition to hospice care, she started thinking about her bucket list and all the things she wanted to accomplish before it was too late. One of these items was pretty simple: she wanted to eat a freshly-made beignet for the first time.
Unfortunately, Jessica lives in Iowa, where beignets are not a common pastry to find. She also doesn’t have the luxury to hop in a car or travel by plane to visit Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans due to her debilitating condition. She does, however, have TikTok.
And this is where the passion for kindness begins.
Other people see Jessica’s video. Someone knows a friend who actually makes beignets for a living, selling them from a food truck in California. The beignet maker, Chris, sees her video and hears that whisper on his heart to go and do. Over the course of 3 days, he reaches out to Jessica, gathers donations through GoFundMe, Zelle, and Venmo, gets connected with a local grocery store in Iowa (HyVee), and is now set to fly to Iowa to make Jessica beignets from scratch, right at her home, so she can mark one more thing off her life’s bucket list (along with some other surprises along the way!)
What struck me most in watching this adventure unfold was the video Chris posted yesterday in response to another TikTok user questioning his motives in collecting money for this act of kindness. In his attempt to explain his “why” for completing this task, he breaks down in tears, overcome with emotion. (Seriously, click the link above. You don’t have to have a TikTok account to view it. It’s worth watching!)
Do you ever feel this way?
You want to do something kind for someone else, but during the planning or implementation stage another person’s skepticism sets that boulder weight of heaviness square on your shoulders again?
I’ve watched his video of explanation several times and it resonates with my soul. I feel the anguish deeply – the struggle to find the right words, the fear of being misunderstood, the desire for others to see the unobliterated joy in meeting a need of someone else – without expectation of reward or acknowledgment, but instead, an invitation to come along for the ride.
Part of being a kindness cultivator is sharing our story with the world.
So friends, keep going. Don’t allow the crushing weight of the world’s despair to keep you silent or still. Don’t stop being kind. Even though the mainstream media spotlights hatred and horror, your stories of selflessness remind others that there is hope in our humanity.
Keep going. Connect with other Kindness Cultivators. Look for the good in others.
And if one day you find someone whose last wish is to eat a freshly-made beignet, then get out there and make it happen.
YOU are the joy of the world!