Be the Person You Needed

I remember so clearly tentatively entering the room for our first cross-country team meeting at university. I had flown across the country on invitation to join the national middle-distance running program at the University of Victoria. From a small, protected pond of Leaside to the raging waters of a very large ocean. Gulp. I was terrified, and I was injured (but that’s another story for another time).

What I remember, as I was saying to myself “What on earth am I doing here?”, was one friendly face that I had met a year earlier at the Canadian Cross-Country Championships that were held in Vancouver. Brenda and I had met while seeking out a few minutes of quiet prior to the big race. We were both solo athletes from our respective teams and feeling a little overwhelmed and isolated. We warmly wished each other well and went on our merry way. You can only imagine my surprise when that same friendly face with the same friendly smile motioned for me to sit next to her at the team meeting the following year! Here we were, again, solo representatives from our respective teams in a new province far away from home. Now we were on the same team. It was instant friendship.

I’ve been thinking about that chance encounter and how much it enriched my life. She was a friendly, welcoming salve when I was lonely, intimidated and scared. She was exactly what I needed at that time in my life.

This memory was triggered by a line I read recently in Dani Shapiro’s memoir, Hourglass: “Be the person you needed when you were younger.” For me, when I ask myself that question and explore various events in my life, what I needed most was to feel loved and to not feel alone. It made me think of the times when a welcoming smile or simple acknowledgement made all the difference. A simple, yet thoughtful act of kindness that had the power to shift circumstances. The person you needed when you were younger had nothing to do with “things” (although getting a pony never hurts *wink*) and everything to do with how they made you feel.

Asking yourself this simple question has the potential to motivate your own actions in a positive way. The memory of a needed, friendly welcome can be just the nudge we need to be more welcoming to others. The warmth we experience when we receive a lovely email or letter can inspire us to write a thoughtful note to someone else. A sweet treat left at the door (even if it is for the pups *wink*) can remind us to do something novel and unexpected for others. It’s a lovely spin on “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Perhaps those “ouch” moments, and the actions that brought some relief, are the ones that have the most potential to influence our actions. We can all relate to being hurt and remember, with gratitude, those who thought to ease our pain through their active compassion.

The evolution of Kind Living was rooted in my deep belief that all of us possess a rich reservoir of courage, compassion, kindness and grace. It is also my belief that our mindful movement practice serves to remind us of these attributes and encourages us to put them to good use.

Coupled with that question of “who you needed when you were younger” and our own powerful reservoir of goodness, each of us is positioned for contributing to meaningful social change. I celebrate your efforts to enrich the lives of others, and I am grateful for your ongoing support and encouragement.

My wish is that we all are surrounded by love, and that we extend that love to others.

Warmest regards,