… Yet do I fear thy nature,
It is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way.
Kindness and Recovery
Can we ever be too kind? Is a simple act of kindness ever a detriment to success? Does kindness ever open the door to exploitation? I was listening to another Ted Talks on the way home to Jacksonville. Some fancy-pants Social Psychologist did a study that found the richer we are, the less empathetic we are. (Sorry about the “fancy pants” thing, but every time I listen to Ted Talks I’m like, “What am I doing with my life? Why didn’t I start a school to educate the women of African villages to be engineers?”)
Anyway, it’s Monday. I am thinking about kindness and empathy today. I am going to go out on a limb and say these qualities do not make us vulnerable. They are key to true success and key to recovery from alcoholism.
My friend George and I were leaving a restaurant a year or so ago and there was a guy in the parking lot with a cardboard sign and a hopeful tin cup. I teetered past on high heeled shoes, but George stopped, dug out his wallet and put some paper money in the cup.
As we walked to my car I said, “George, do you always do that?”
George looked at me, shrugged and said, “Every time.”
I remember that exchange a year later (George probably does not), because it was so innocent and unlikely, but so George. He is no push over, he is a high powered lawyer, I’ve seen him skewer his opponents in court, but he is one of the first people I went to when I was at rock bottom from alcoholism. Somehow I knew he’d be part of the solution. Somehow I knew he’d be kind…
Success and empathy conjoined.
Every recovering alcoholic has a “George story”. Luckily I have several. Today I’d like to say, “Thank you.” Thank you, to all of you, for serving as examples of what true success means. Thank you for not judging me. Thank you for showing me kindness when I felt like an empty tin cup…