A fellow blogger and kindred spirit has a crush on MBTTTR.
Don’t take my word for it.
He wrote a ridiculously kind and flattering post about it yesterday.
Then, ANOTHER blogger friend and I were talking about the challenge of accepting compliments gracefully.
It’s a tricky thing.
- No one likes egotism.
- Everyone likes humility. (Unless its fake.)
- People don’t see themselves as others do.
Because of my writing here, and the open lines of communication with the outside world, I’ve been absolutely flooded with kindness. With people saying very nice and very flattering things about the words I type here.
My ex-wife wasn’t big on compliments. That wasn’t one of the ways in which she would show support, if being supportive was even on her agenda that day.
Losing my job on Dec. 31, 2009 was the first crushing blow I took as an adult.
Husband, father, unemployed.
For 18 months.
What kind of a man can’t find a job for 18 months?
Maybe I’m not as smart, likable, capable or skilled as I thought I was.
Then, my first crushing death.
What did we do to deserve all this bad stuff? Why is all this happening to us?
Then, my second crushing death. My marriage. On life support. Waiting to be put down. I was screaming at the lifeless comatose vegetable. Pleading for a response. But life had exited stage right before the second act begun.
As David, the author of The Marmot in My Head knows all too well, the end of a relationship is draining.
It saps energy. Happiness. Life. Confidence.
David has been though divorce, too. And then he came out of it. And then more relationships. With their own stories. With their own endings. With their own flavor of heartache.
You mean, I have to be scared of the end of even more relationships? I might have to do this again? More than once?
And I’m messy now. This is all so new. From age 29 to now at 34. So much has changed.
A son. Unemployment. A career change. Death. A divorce.
I still barely recognize myself sometimes.
And now there’s this new me.
This digital me. This collection of words and sentences and random thoughts spewed onto the screen.
In some ways, it’s more me than the guy everyone knows in real life. Because I tell you things that stay behind the mask at the masquerade party that is my life.
And in other ways, this isn’t like the real me.
Because in this place, I am bombarded with positivity. With kindness. With appreciation. With encouragement.
Some of you even think I know what I’m doing. That I’m not just some scared, insecure guy embarrassed about my life circumstances and wishing I wasn’t spending so much time alone.
I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m, quite literally, making all this up as a go along.
Just hoping it will matter to enough people so that something good can come from it. For you. For me. For the people we know in our real lives.
But then something nice happens. Something really nice.
Someone reaches out to you privately, and you make a connection, and you grow and encourage one another.
WordPress editors decide what you’re doing matters, and they give you a nice attaboy.
A fellow writer and all-around perfectly flawed, kind, smart and well-intentioned human being and kindred spirit takes a moment to be kind.
I appreciate so much all of the kindness being sent my way.
I appreciate so much all of the compliments offered.
And I apologize, sincerely, if my self-deprecating nature has left any of you feeling like your niceties were falling on unappreciative, deaf ears.
They were not.
Yesterday was an absolutely wonderful day because of a bunch of people I’ve never even met before.
The Cynical Philanthropist
Actually, I can’t be sure he’s a philanthropist at all.
The only thing I do know is that I’m more sensitive than I should be about what people think of me.
And yesterday evening, I got my most-negative comment to date.
It made me sad. Legitimately sad for maybe 20 minutes.
But then a bunch of new commenters said a bunch of new nice things and all the ugly went away.
I wrote a post not long ago called, uncreatively, Pay it Forward, which told the story of a stranger paying for my lunch at a drive-thru window, prompting me to write about generosity and random acts of kindness.
Within the post, I wrote something that I thought was one of the more-important things I’ve ever written on this blog.
I wrote: “Cynicism never made much sense to me. Because every cynic in the world could prove themselves wrong simply by displaying unconditional generosity just one time.”
I’m right about that.
Each cynic is one unselfishly kind act away from delegitimizing their entire way of life.
The cynical commenter suggested that drive-thru charity is bullshit.
He wrote this: “Drive-though kindness is very misguided. People who are rich enough to own a car, too lazy to cook their own food, and too lazy to even get out of that car don’t need or deserve anyone’s help.
“If you want to really help people then find some poor, starving, desperate and maybe even homeless person who is really suffering and help that person.”
Really? That’s the key takeaway?, I thought.
I replied: “A cynic! How fun!
“Kindness discrimination? Based on relative wealth? Some young mother of three with a terminally ill father, an unexpected automotive bill to keep her car running and the stress of living in a brand new city with no friends doesn’t deserve the pick-me-up of a random act of kindness?
“Or worse… You want to tell people motivated to perform such an act that their generosity is bullshit? Unworthy? Not good enough? Because someone else gave more to some other thing?
“Sorry, sir. Can’t co-sign.
“Everyone deserves kindness. Everyone deserves lifted up. Everyone, regardless of means, can benefit from love.”
I drive a pretty nice car. My house is far from extravagant, but compared to homeless people and those living in impoverished or third-world conditions, it’s the Taj Mahal. Especially for a guy living alone half the time. I hardly have any extra cash laying around, but I’m paid pretty respectable wages. Well above the median household income in my area.
But, you know what?
I’m kind of a mess. My life has never, ever been worse.
I’m frequently sad. Frequently lonely. Frequently wondering if, when, and how this will ever change.
But then it happens.
A random act of kindness.
A sweet note from a stranger.
An encouraging text message from an old friend.
A hug from my son.
An unbelievably kind and flattering gesture from a fellow writer.
And then, for a moment…
The world is right.
A little less ugly.
A little more beautiful.
Cynicism is a scourge on humanity.
And kindness is the weapon of choice to combat it.
Join the fight.
A Great Marmot-Related Moment in Cinematic History
Right around the 40-second mark.