4 Surprising reminders that challenge the belief in dishing out kindness to everyone

Make no mistake, you don’t have the energy, time or means to be kind to “everyone.”
It’s a big world out there, last time I checked there were a few billion people.
Society teaches us to use feelgood kindness-buzzwords without substance.
Generic kindness-memes get us all fired up and enthusiastic without delivering the tools required for implementation.
Somehow there’s the perpetuation of this mystic and esoteric vision that we need to go on missions of mercy and kindness to exotic faraway places and be transformed into saints of sorts.
Kindness begins at home.
Sorry… You needn’t book a travel ticket just yet.
Feed your kids, be civil to your wife and make time for them.
That’s the most basic kindness you can put on the table.

Kind people can be undercover bullies.
We do get individuals who force kindness onto others irrespective of appropriate context or not.
They can be ruthless in their attempts to feel good at all cost.
Let’s not beat about the bush.
Fueling a desire to give can become a narcissistic act.
Those who launch huge charity events in the name of kindness can surely do a lot of good.
But the attention and publicity it reflects onto them can feel and look oh so good!
Ironically enough I’ve experienced seriously unkind abuse of staff members and crew at the very events designed to promote kindness!

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Why the caveperson started walking towards the mountain

One of the guests at a party attempted to tell a story about a caveman who decided to start walking towards the mountains…
Almost immediately a paleontologist silenced the narrator.
He proposed that the term “caveman” was outdated.
He said there were better terms for the character that the storyteller tried to depict.
A cunning linguist from the back of the room insisted that paleoanthropology was better suited to describe the ancient protagonist from the story than paleontology ever could!
The archaeologist in the group had a few bones to pick with much of the narrative as well.
He was very vocal about unearthing tangible proof!

Just when most reached consensus that “caveman” would be suitable as a generic term for a simple story a Professor in Geography questioned a meteorologist’s take on the caveman scenario.
A fight almost broke out.

One of the mathematicians in the group used doodles on a paper napkin to illustrate why the caveman couldn’t possibly have been able to navigate a straight route towards the mountain.
The nihilist didn’t care about any of this, because he felt there was no mountain.
At that point a feminist joined the discussion.
She was very adamant that the main character in the story could’ve been a cavegirl!
To preserve the peace, the term “caveperson” was voted in as a suitable alternative for “caveman!”

For any given story there will be as many opinions as there are people in the room.

We’re often so busy dissecting comments for some truth that we tend to forget they don’t necessarily enhance the original story.
Sometimes we only want to hear a story!

And due to the interference from third-party experts, we still have no idea why the caveperson decided to start walking that day…

Photographs, living and “serving suggestions”

When I look at people in old stock photos I wonder where they are now?
Did they marry, do they have kids?
Do they even hang out in that place where they were photographed?
Were they really as happy as they looked in the photo?
Did someone ask them to pose in a specific way?
How long did they have to maintain that pose?

I’ve experienced fun moments in the coffee shop or in the office.
But somehow I feel we’ve never looked as “brochure ready” as the people in the stock photos.

The pictures of burgers on the restaurant menu always look better than the real thing you get served.
Even worse, on the pictures you always see side dishes and extras that seldom accompany the actual meal.
Restaurant owners have cleverly circumvented this problem by labeling their display photos as being “serving suggestions.”

Don’t walk into a new job and expect the photos on the company website to be a true representation of actual working conditions.
Perhaps the company’s graphic artist could label those website pictures as “Working suggestions.”

The same “serving suggestion” applies to people in holiday adverts.
To be honest, I often mistrust any form of advertising.

A picture might paint a thousand words but only a few of those words paint the real picture.

We’re all advertisers these days.
Consider the extent we go to in order to make ourselves look appealing to the outside world.
We have filters and a truckload of other photo-enhancing tools at our disposal.
Often it’s quite shocking to see a person’s “serving suggestions” in comparison to the real deal on offer.

I do understand it’s a competitive world out there and influencers need to have proper HD photos in their arsenal.

But recently I saw an old grainy photograph from my childhood.
It was out of focus and faded.
But it represented a broad swathe of how I remembered our old home.
It wasn’t picturesque or retouched in any way, but it was real.
There was no “living suggestion” viewed through the beauty filter that society has come to expect …
There was only “living!”

The hand and the mountain

The hand doesn’t grow larger, nor does the mountain become smaller.
But what happens when you’ve walked far enough?
When you turn around and look at the mountain your hand can shield it from view.
All the deep crevices, treacherous rock faces and narrow ledges that you had to navigate earlier starts feeling like a memory.

“Getting perspective by moving away from the object” sounds so trite, but yet remains so true.
Perspective teaches us that we have a job, but the job isn’t our life.
One day we will leave it far behind.
Perspective reminds us that while we might be loved and valued today we will inevitably become nothing more than a memory someday.
Others will become memories for us.
Without us, life will carry on.

Moving away from something not only shows us how small something can be, but it can also show us how big something is.
Perspective illuminates that which is either extraordinary, irrelevant or important to us.

So think about it!
Next time you wish to understand something better look at your hand.
Switch off your computer, put down your electronic gadgets and hold up your hand.
What can you still see… Even with your hand in your line of sight?
Is it a person or environment that you truly love?
Or is it a problem that seems larger than life?
Does it seem like an insurmountable obstacle?
Then ask yourself what it would look like from a distance.
What would it look like if you moved away from it completely, not just today, but forever?

If you should choose to ridicule me, let me offer assistance!

“Opinion” is the illusion that you achieve something
by commenting on something.

So many people online are ready to label everyone else an “idiot!”

If I’m an idiot then I would rather write aphorisms than write a novel.
Digesting a novel in its entirety is difficult.
You would need to read a lot of it to arrive at the conclusion that
it was pure drivel.
I’m making it easy for you, I’m offering bite-sized chunks of wisdom
that you can assimilate quite easily.
You can read a few pages and draw your conclusions much faster!

Nothing you could conceive will be new! So what?

Something that stops thoughts about creativity dead in its tracks is the fear that you’ll be doing something that has been done before!

Everything might have been “done” already.
But it doesn’t mean you’ve invested your blood,
sweat and tears to create something yet!
You might as well do it because you feel driven to produce!
These days everyone is a musician.
But you know what, there’s still enough ways in which to
rearrange compelling notes.
With some imagination freed from fear you can still
paint something that will make people look twice.
We have enough digital space for your words as well.
Just write them down.
Don’t subscribe to the illusion that people expect you
to invent the next new genre.
Rather focus on doing something you can feel proud of.
But even before you judge the merit of your work, ask yourself if you enjoy it!

Write whatever you want to write.
You don’t need someone’s permission.
And your ideas can be worth writing about!
But you won’t know what you’re capable of unless you do it!

Make this day the day in which you create something with only one audience in mind…
Yourself!

The courage to draw a line!

Matthew dropped by earlier this morning.
He told me that he had forgotten how to draw.
I made us some coffee.
But I knew he would’ve preferred a beer.
A friend would’ve offered him a beer.
But then again we weren’t really friends.

He said he didn’t have the courage to even draw  lines anymore.
I knew what it was all about.
His stories of being out among the stars and looking for traces of his footprints on the moon meant that he felt his universe was broken again.
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Illusions of perception— And red lines that help us observe!

Perception becomes your impairment when you’ve always been able to see without sharpening your ability to observe.

To counteract the illusion of reality stemming from an unmitigated belief in my own perception I started drawing circles around things.

Whenever I do venture into the nebulous netherworld of “online newsworthiness” my imaginary red marker becomes indispensable.
I draw thick red lines around terms such as “Everything you need to know about…”
Because quite simply it’s often nothing more than time-consuming inane clickbait.
Volatile opinion and repetitive comments are circled in thick red and black lines.
And next to all those circles I write “irrelevant!”
The circles remind me to focus less on seeing and more on “observing.”

I can also congratulate myself for finding the self-discipline to circle many forms of online communication after hours.
Especially over weekends, I don’t see the need to be glued to unsubstantiated and disturbing comments from those I’ve never even met.
This unbridled stream of “information”only serves to refract my experience of what could otherwise have been quality time spent with significant others.

Checking in on a friend or family member on Facebook doesn’t always necessitate a red line.
We should use technology for communication!
We have always done so.
Back in the days before the internet, we did make phone calls.
But due to practical constraints such as cost and being tied to a wire we also had to keep conversations relatively short.
A long-distance call to a relative abroad was a luxury, not a commodity.
So yes, let’s communicate by all means!
I’m only becoming more and more adverse against jumping into the polluted stream of “unfiltered opinion” simply because it’s so easy!
It has become too easy to expose ourselves to filth we really don’t need to deal with.

On a positive note…
I’ve also started making use of green markers.
I encircle many occurrences of empathy I see online.
It isn’t all bad.
In fact, nothing is!
Yin requires a Yang.

Devil may care about labels!

* And the devil in black dress watches over
My guardian angel walks away
Life is short and love is always over in the morning
Black wind come carry me far away

Society taught us that we require stereotypes to help us make sense of everything around us.
Angels were good, and demons were always bad.
Darkness is negative, light is positive.
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The silence of tragedy and tangible emptiness

When I look at comments on social media I sometimes get the idea that tragedy has become a commodity.
How the headline is phrased and the angle from which the story is presented can serve as a divisive tool rather than a notification of the actual tragedy itself.
Obituaries have become battlegrounds.
Interest groups who scream the loudest sometimes wish to convince us that the sincerity of their outrage is equal to the noise they can generate.
So many times this noise descends into a cesspool of vulgarity and banal interjections.
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