How in tune are you with what’s happening around you? Do you walk into the grocery store while texting on your phone? (I’m guilty.)
When you walk out of that store, would you be able to tell someone the color of the cashier’s eyes? (‘Fraid not.) Or even their shirt color? (Maybe.)
Sometimes my mind is so full of what needs to be done next, I miss out on the details of the current moment. I’ll admit, I can barely tell you my best friend’s eye color, much less the color of someone’s I only saw once.
Yes, although I fight it, sometimes the details pass me by. I keep pursuing the ability to slow down and be in the moment, because I know behind the details is something much more important. There is a person waiting to be seen — perhaps even needing to be seen.
Delores Zaske, of Pine River, Minn., wrote to me about how someone saw her and showed up with kindness just when she needed it.
"Shortly before the lockdown for COVID-19, my sister drove me to a neighboring town for a doctor’s appointment. We are both in our 80s, but I’m the oldest at 87. After the appointment, we had lunch and then stopped at Target for a few items.
"Upon coming out of the store, my sister realized she had parked too close to the cement curb in the handicapped parking space, making it impossible for me to get into the passenger side.
"After unloading our cart, she asked if I could stand long enough without my walker so she could put it in the car before backing out. I thought I could. Boy, what a wrong answer.
"My sister returned the shopping cart, but then discovered she didn’t have her cane. Fortunately, I spotted it in the cart she had just returned. But by now, my legs were beginning to turn to jelly.
"I felt on the verge of falling when suddenly, a strong arm was around my shoulder and a woman was saying, ‘Just lean on me.’
"She stood beside me until my sister was able to back the car out far enough for me to get in. When I turned to thank the lady, all she said was, ‘Oh gosh! It was nothing! Just take care.’
"I never got her name but believe me, she was at the top of my prayer list that night. I truly believe in angels."
Let’s make a pledge, you and me: Even if we can’t zero in on details like someone’s eye color, let’s agree to zero in on people.
Let’s pay attention to the people around us in our neighborhood and at the store and in our places of work. Maybe they’ll need our help or maybe they won’t. But at least we will begin to teach ourselves to really show up and be in the moment, because when we do that, we have fertile ground for kindness.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at email@example.com. Check out Nicole’s new book, "The Negativity Remedy: Unlocking More Joy, Less Stress and Better Relationships," now available wherever books are sold.
Nicole J. Phillips, a former Fargo television anchor, is a speaker, author and host of The Kindness Podcast. She lives in Aberdeen, S.D., with her three children and her husband, Saul Phillips, the head men's basketball coach at Northern State University. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.