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Kindness

Overnight sidewalk art, ice and leaf, Lindon, Utah, January 2020

There is something very sweet about this photo. In many ways, it is uneventful and perfectly ordinary. It’s on the sidewalk near my home, next to the garbage cans, and on the way to the carpark. It’s what remains from an overnight freeze — nothing designed by me or other human. Yet I was immediately taken by a certain beauty in this. In this frozen pattern that feels like it has some design to it. I don’t know the science of how this moisture coheres or freezes into this pattern. It just felt like there was something kind in the experience of seeing it. I stopped. Got my phone out. Harvested a few photographs.

Small kindnesses are things I’ve been thinking about lately. The ones that come from other people or the ones that I offer to others. Or the ones that come from nature like the momentary pattern that I caught in photo, that evoke a momentary palpability and relationship with beauty. In part, I’m thinking about kindness because a friend recently shared this passage from Danusha Lameris. It was included in a hand-mailed, and hand-written card, that I was delighted to receive.

Small Kindesses

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you” when someone sneezes, a leftover from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying. And sometimes, when you spill lemons from your grocery bag, someone else will help you pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other. We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot, and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder, and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass. We have so little of each, now. So far from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange. What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here, have my seat,” “Go ahead — you first,” “I like your hat.”

For inspiration, and perhaps some beauty.
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