I’ve been reminded this week to practice one of my favourite mantras:
“Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle” – J.M. Barrie.
The battle could be as seemingly small as running late or losing your Myki, to the life altering, like changing jobs, breaking up with a partner, money troubles or poor health. Life is rarely smooth sailing but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling a bit jaded by it lately – everyone I know, let alone everyone I meet, seems to be battling something. Even when you don’t see the battle, you can see the armour – the nervous humour, teary eyes, unexplained anger or withdrawal – and yes, unsuspecting strangers can often get caught in the cross fire (Exhibit A: Road Rage).
Often, in the midst of our own combat, we forget that everyone is fighting some kind of battle. We interact with strangers on a daily basis without knowing their name, let alone their story and their personal battles. And we don’t necessarily need to. But if we were all kinder than necessary to each other, wouldn’t the battlefield be a slightly more bearable (and beautiful) place?
This week, I took myself to a Laneway Learning class on The Art of Guerrilla Kindness – it’s a new and artistic take on the “random acts of kindness” movement. During a 1.5 hour class, we learnt how to make small hand crafted artworks (in the form of cupcakes) to leave around Melbourne for unsuspecting strangers. The aim? To simply brighten someone’s day.
The world needs more moments of joy, more unexpected lovely things happening to people, more enveloping moments of beauty that catch your eye and your heart, even if only for a second.
I am not remotely artistic but found this concept beautiful and completely intriguing – so I went along. I’m going to be honest and say that hand stitching a cupcake is more stressful than it sounds – my stitching was uneven and the shape was wonky, but the teacher reassured me that “it’s not meant to be perfect, it’s handmade”. The Japanese call this “wabi sabi” – what makes something beautiful, is its imperfections. What a convenient theory for me…
There is definitely something about a handmade gift that is a bit more special – in this material world, our time and energy are much more valuable commodities than money. (I think Mums have always known this secret, which explains why that plate you made in pre-primary with a drawing of a rainbow on it is still in her kitchen cupboard).
So, despite the imperfections, I have decided to leave my cupcake creation for someone special in Melbourne. Perhaps an act of guerrilla kindness will make their battle a little easier that day (or provide a distraction through sheer amusement at my lack of sewing talent). Either way, it was genuinely handmade with love and kindness for whoever finds it.