The Greatest Gift You Can Give Is One Small Act of Kindness

I haven’t left my house in three weeks. (Don’t worry — this story has a happy ending.)


Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve walked the three blocks to my supermarket and then scurried back home. Sometimes, the very act of leaving your home is Herculean, and it should never be taken for granted. We shouldn’t take anything for granted.

Today, I finally left my home. My friend Monica and I walk sometimes and we have the same route because it’s familiar. We know the streets, the stately Larchmont mansions, and the sandwich shop where we feast on the best cold cuts for under $5. I take comfort in the familiar, in repetition. And so we went on our walk and she got me this sandwich that had all the decadent things: truffle burrata (how did I not know this was a thing?) and kale pesto smothered in a chipotle sauce. See above Exhibit A.

It felt good to feel the warmth of the midday sun on my face. It felt good to catcall fuzzy puppies. It felt good to feel some semblance of normalcy — albeit for a little while. After lunch, we walked around for a bit and talked about Blindspotting, a movie we both loved and hasn’t nearly gotten the attention it deserves. While we were walking I realized just how grateful I was for a friend who will meet me for a walk and buy me a fancy sandwich.

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We live in a culture that celebrates the bombastic. Bigger is better. More is more. But sometimes the most profound display of love and compassion we can exhibit is one small act of kindness. One simple gesture can be folding someone’s hand in yours and telling them to squeeze as hard as you hurt. Regale the joke that makes them laugh. Buy them a cup of coffee and listen without waiting for your turn to speak, without waiting to shift the conversation back to you. One simple gesture can be a question: What do you need? How can I help shoulder your hurt? Love when they least expect it.

I want to say that I have grand plans for 2019. I don’t. Instead, I want to make a few small shifts in my life that will reverberate. Make the big things happen. I want to make some compromises. Maybe look for a full-time job to feel a semblance of stability and affordable health insurance. Learn how to be kinder to myself because I am often, terribly, unkind. I’m my own worst enemy and I want a peace offering. A white flag. A friendship.

I’m home from my walk and back at it but I feel full. I feel full of food and love and friendship and the recipient of the smallest and truest act of kindness.