Not so long ago I read a post by author Ann Garvin. I was quite taken by the title – Cake without the calories because who doesn’t wish for that, right? Wouldn’t it be wonderful?
Ann says: “I think I cry at kindness because it is such a gift. It is a kite without a string. Cake without the calories. Love without the burden.”
This quote has become an obsession. This is what writers do – see or hear something and it takes on a life, makes the writer crazy. There is no doubt the quote is clever. But as to why it struck a chord, well, this has taken me months to understand, and nature has played a part in that understanding.
Like Ann I cry at kindness. I watch a show on television and if a kind act is performed no matter how trivial, I cry. When someone does something special for someone, I cry whether it be fact or fictional, friend or stranger. I read a post like this one by Ann and I cry. She’s right. The act of kindness is derailing. It is such a gift, an unasked-for gift, and because there are no strings attached, it touches us at a level we can’t ignore.
I am beginning to accept though that I am a contrary creature. I get caught up in ideas, question perhaps far too much, notice more than I want to, but that’s the way I am. And currently I am not seeing the gift; I see the opposite, a cake with calories. Most times I am seeing, noticing if you like, a focus on calories, and not the flavour, the taste, the texture, the joy of the cake. Have we considered that the calories are there to keep us honest? The cake isn’t the problem. It’s not the cake that needs scrutiny; it is our behaviour.
I recently met someone who I guess could be considered a softie (nice word for over-sensitive). This person often finds the casual behaviour in relationships and situations, especially from those closest bewildering, bordering on painful. She’s not the only one. Kindness these days lacks intimacy. What happened to the simple pat on the shoulder, the ear that listens while the speaker pours both the tea and their heart out.
Kindness instead occurs by text or some form of social media, or by purchasing a gift, usually an expensive one. It is almost as if our intellectual knowledge of how-to is what matters and we are happy to show this off. We do our version of what is considered kind and too bad if it’s not what is needed. We are doing the right thing by the word’s definition. I call this, tokenising.
I believe we have become time poor. Okay, it happens but combined with a media that has convinced us we know everything, it is deadly. Being able to press a button has spoiled us, or rather, our thinking. Consequently, we don’t listen; we already know. We miss what is said so we miss what is needed, arrogantly assuming we already know. Confusing? All I really understand is that assuming is an ugly word. Ann does a brilliant piece on how easily things can be misconstrued. In some ways the attached clip from you-tube is sad but it is a good sad.
We are so caught up in ourselves and what we think we know that we have lost our ability to be aware. Ask Mother Nature, or countries at war, or tired, battered humans. What are we afraid of? Caring too much? Not caring enough. Are we afraid we may have to give up a part of our busy routine? The calorie count has become the focus, not the cake itself and the cost is the weight gain called detached kindness. Do I sound harsh? I hope so because we need a hard line.
I live in Australia and we have been devastated over the last few months by fires, high temperatures, storms with touches of irony that include small teasing drops of water that later become flood threatening deluges. Whilst financial and moral support from fellow Australians and the world has poured in, we have cried as individuals, as Australians and as fellow human beings. Together we ensured that detachment died a well-deserved death. Why does it have to take something momentous to attract kindness?
Years ago, my neighbour, driving home from night shift came across my cat Tammy. Dead for a few hours in the summer heat, Tammy was neither sweet smelling or a pretty sight. My life at the time was hard. Working two jobs meant some nights I got home very late, and without fail, Tammy would be waiting at my front door. She understood things a human often missed. Brenda, my neighbour, also understood things and without hesitation she picked up the body, wrapped it in a towel, put it in her car and brought Tammy home to me. She handed Tammy over to me like a prize, a treasure. I cried a stream, maybe even a small river that day for Tammy and for the kindness of my neighbour.
That night Tammy wasn’t there I lost a little bit of my soul well before I even knew what had happened to her. My neighbour’s kindness restored a small shard. Watching the world show kindness to the land I make my home has restored a huge chunk. Real kindness means real involvement. It begins now, at home with the person beside us, with our families, with our neighbours, with our friends, with our co-workers, and with the world. Stop worrying about calories and eat the f#####g cake. Be kind. Kindness will dissolve the calories.
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Until next time,