I have noticed a striking difference between pre-injury and post injury life… People are kinder to me. We are capable of being so much more compassionate to one another. This story from a few years back exemplifies this perfectly.
My friend and I were at our gate waiting for our flight to a conference I was speaking at. To kill the time, my friend asked to use my wheelchair while we waited. It was an unusual ask but nonetheless thought it would be entertaining. He transferred me to a seat while he wheeled around.
When it was getting close to time to board, I asked if he’d speak to the gate agent to see if we could get as close to the front of the plane as possible, which makes it much easier for me to board. He happily rolled over and secured our ideal spots.
Shortly after, as we boarded, the gate agent saw my friend standing. She had a very puzzled and startled look. She was able to quickly put it together; she wasn’t witnessing a miracle, but simply a Houdini switcheroo. Bothered, she said, “I thought you were in a wheelchair! I was so nice to you!”
Since my injury, I’ve witnessed people’s capacity for kindness. But it often takes visible challenges to draw that out. But most burdens are invisible – grief, depression, heartache. We withhold kindness until we see tangible need.
Yet empathy is a choice. I wish we extended grace without requiring suffering to deserve it. We all face hidden battles.
So offer kindness to all, regardless of appearance. Seek to understand invisible struggles.
Kindness is a language we all need. By choosing it consistently, we build a more compassionate world. Our humanity thrives when we lead with gentle hearts.
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