Be Kind Whenever Possible. It is always Possible. Dalai Lama
A few days ago I bought an apple pie at Whole Foods. There was a sticker on it that said vegan (no dairy) so I bought it for my husband who is lactose intolerant. After he started to eat the pie he looked closely at the label and read the ingredients. Sure enough, it had butter in it. The vegan sticker had been incorrectly placed on the pie and he was sick for days. I called Whole Foods immediately. I was most concerned that they pull the other mislabeled pies off the floor so others who can’t eat dairy would not get sick. They called me back a few hours later and offered me a refund and a gift card but still had not pulled the pies off the shelves. Yesterday morning I went to the store and there was no record of my call and no gift card even though I had been assured the matter was very serious to them. Maybe because the pie had made my husband so sick, I felt really sensitive about the fact that there was no record of the incident and no satisfying acknowledgment of the situation. After waiting for 20 minutes, I got the refund and a $25 gift card for my trouble. I realize that this is a small matter in the large perspective but there was something about how the store handled it that really stung my heart.
It reminded me of when you go to a doctor and you don’t feel well and the doctor is very busy and a bit aloof to you. She or he is helping you but you feel so vulnerable and need some warmth to make you feel better. Or when you need a doctor’s office to call you back because your child is sick and no one calls for hours. Or the phone company doesn’t show up after you have waited for them for half a day. Or a customer service representative is unhelpful when you have a problem with a bill or product. There is something about all of these incidents that can make us all feel terribly lonely and not cared for when we need help the most.
But we all have a choice. We can let these moments close our hearts and nurture anger because the world does not care more for us, or we can choose to open more to the kindness that we wish to feel. In fact, when I left the store I was so careful and deliberate about how I treated everyone I came in contact with all day. For me, the store’s lack of care and sensitivity about the incident made me more aware of those around me who were suffering because I understood the perspective of not feeling cared for. Even if I didn’t understand what exactly the person in front of me was feeling, I was able to pause and smile and care with an open heart. I did not solve everyone’s problems that day, but at least I tried to give each person I met the warmth of my love instead of leaving them feeling lost and alone when they were most vulnerable.
So today when you have a chance, maybe call a friend who is having a tough time or hug your children a little longer if they are struggling at school. Ask the woman at the local store how she is doing and try to react with kindness even when someone is not kind to you. And Maybe as we offer this warmth to the world, we might just find the coldness of others fade and the warmth of light will shine from within us.
Have a great day!!!