I was driving into Seattle late Monday afternoon and was in the usual traffic snarl beginning around Greenlake. As I passed under 50th Street, cars changed lanes to go around a stalled van in the second lane from the left.
My impulse was to pull over, jump out of my car, run across traffic, get the driver to throw it into neutral, and start pushing the van out of traffic. Just the vision of that impulse caused some minor terror- the fear of judgment, the fear of invoking someone’s anger, the fear of being seen doing something unusual. I did not stop.
And, of course, this is exactly what our friend, Houston Kraft, talked about when he visited on Tuesday. What keeps us from acts of kindness is our fear. It is a fear, he says, we are not born with, but that we develop over time as we experience, suffering, pain, loss, grief.
I have been fortunate to have been in a six-year conversation with Houston. The actual talking happens only periodically, but it feels like a place of learning where vulnerability and not being the hero in your own story is ever-present. Each reminder deepens my own meaning making, largely because Houston’s message comes through stories of his own imperfections, mistakes, and regrets.
Kindness has become a bit of a guilty pleasure, as some poets and philosophers have posited. I am not sure why it appears that way to them- kindness seems practical and necessary in a complex, and, at times, mean world. I am grateful Houston’s reminders of my own imperfections and the steady progress I am making becoming a better human.
Scott Mauk - Edmonds Heights K-12, WA