Can the chain of kindness turn you unkind?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Have you heard about the concept of circle of kindness, an idea that tries to emphasize that doing an act of kindness to someone shall encourage that person to do another act of kindness to someone else, and so on, the kindness chain shall  go on and eventually, you shall be at the receiving end of an act of kindness. And that’s why we should keep practicing acts of kindness to make this world a better place. You may have seen this video on a social network before.

While driving to work one day, I started thinking about this concept (that’s what you do when you are stuck in traffic, your mind wanders to such random thoughts.) I will get to the point why I started thinking about it, but before that, I would like to emphasize here the difference between “chain of kindness” and “circle of kindness”. A circle of kindness is a subset (or an instance of) chain of kindness. It’s possible that you could initiate this chain but don’t end up being on the receiving end of such an act.

Ok, now getting back to the point why I started thinking about it, I had to shift to a right lane but the cars in the right lane weren’t giving me enough space to shift in. Then someone in that lane , who probably saw my struggle to get in that lane, decided to give me enough space to shift in easily, I raised my hand as a gesture of thanks to that person. Then, after a few seconds later, I saw another car struggling to get into my lane and I decided to help him out by letting him enough space to get in front of me. Or in other words, close to the theme of this post, I carried forward the chain of kindness.

That started a train of thought (or shall I say a chain of thought to keep up with the title:)). But before that let me define some actors to keep track of them easily.

A – the initiator (the person who let me in)

B – the middle guy (me)

C – the last receiver of kindness (the person whom I let in)

Questions for A:
How did A feel when B let C in ? Did he feel aggravated? If not, How would he feel if C let in D and D let in E and so on.. ? Would he still be calm about it? Will he regret initiating this chain of kindness and curse himself and eventually, decide to pledge to never show such an act of kindness?

Questions for B:
Was the act of letting C in just a way of pleasing himself or settling the “score” of kindness? Would B act as the initiator himself next day or would he always need a nudge to do such an act? Letting in C is adding additional delay to A, so is B doing an unkind act to A then?

Questions for C:
What happens if C doesn’t get a chance to show kindness in traffic, does he forget about it or would he be willing to initiate it next time?

All these questions were interesting to think about, give it a try. It’s not easy to guess what others would think, so I think the easiest way to reason about them will be imagining what would you think if you were A (or B or C). I don’t want to persuade your thoughts by sharing my personal opinions now, so let’s talk about this when we meet over a cup of coffee 🙂

PS: Total number of “kindness” given(used) in this post = 19 😛

What would you say to 1 million people?

Reading Time: 1 minutes

Recently, I came across The ListServe site in my Facebook news feed. ListServe is a massive email list (around 22.5k subscribers at the time of writing). Each day, one person is randomly selected to write an email to this growing list of subscribers. The idea sounded appealing to me, so I signed up a few days ago.

It’s been about a week now since I signed up, and the emails from strangers around the world have been a refreshing way to start the day.

I talked about this listserve email list to a friend, she signed up too. Then we started sharing our reactions to the daily listserve email. One day, she was doing the math of getting a chance to write an email to this list and at the current number of subscribers, there was a chance to get it once in 60 years. We agreed that 60 years is a long time and we should do the exercise of drafting a letter to the world even if we don’t get the chance.

So, I have been thinking at times over past few days about what would I write if I get this chance. I have been asking myself a lot of questions to assist me in getting my thoughts together. Although I haven’t been able to answer all of them, the questions which popped up in this process have given me insights about self – some which I knew and some which I deny admitting.

What would you say to the world if you had this chance to reach out to them knowing that after sending this email, you would be disconnected from this internet world?

PS: I know the idea of getting disconnected from this internet world is probably the scariest idea for most of us.

Love: eye to eye

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I was looking into her eyes, trying to decipher what she was thinking. She was looking back and was probably thinking the same (or that’s at least what I think). This went on probably for a few seconds, but if you have been in such a situation, you will probably know that it feels much longer than that. The metacognition phase was kicking in my head and I was not thinking about what she was thinking but rather I was thinking now that why did I think that she was thinking about what I was thinking and is there a possibility that she was thinking on the same level as mine and knew that I was not thinking about what she was thinking but rather I was thinking now about why did I think that she was thinking about what I was thinking.

As you can see, things were getting a bit too meta and I was falling into this recursive train of thought until a song starts playing out in the background of my head that rescued me. Probably, you may have heard this song before, if you haven’t, I would warn you before you click and listen to it, as it is very likely that next time you look into the eyes of your loved one, you would start hearing this song in background and you would start laughing, and then you would need to explain how you once read this post and were introduced to this song that starts to play in back of your head whenever you look into someone’s eyes for a bit too long. So, coming back to my story, listening to that song playing in my head, I ended up smiling from ear to ear. And such a smile doesn’t go unnoticed even though she was looking at my eyes. And then came the question which snapped me out of that song.

She: Why are you smiling?

Me (caught off guard but thinking it would be weird to explain the real reason): I am smiling because of you.

She (without a delay): Why?

Me (thinking fast on my feet now): You ask me why.. (using the tactic to repeat the question to get time to think of a response, probably heard it in a tech talk)… why because I like spending time with you.

She (smiles but persists like a relentless interrogator): Why?

Me (thinking hard about all romantic catchy phrases from SRK movies): Because I feel very happy when I am with you and there’s nothing else I would prefer than being with you.

She (silent awww… or at least that’s what I think, followed by a softer but same response): Why?

Me (running out of ideas): Why? Because I love you.

She: Why?

At that moment, I was at my wits’ end because I didn’t know how to respond to her last why, because my expectations were based on the movies I have watched. I don’t remember ever (ever like never ever) watching a movie where someone had said “I love you” and got back a response “why”. In the Bollywood movies, more than often it’s followed by a duet song or in the Hollywood movies, by a passionate kiss or love-making. But life ain’t a movie, That’s why man, I say don’t trust the movies. At that moment, I was thinking how that moment would be a perfect addition to the meme set of expectation vs reality and that thought made me smiling from ear to ear again. And then she repeated her question again.

She: Why are you smiling?

It seemed like a moment of deja vu. I felt a strong urge to repeat the same response I had to this question earlier and see if the entire conversation would play out itself again. However, I managed to curb that urge and uttered my response probably influenced by the song which was playing earlier in my head.

Me: I love you because you have got spectacular eyes, sensual sensational eyes, when I see your eyes and my eyes in your eyes, I feel the love flowing my eyes to your eyes. Aye, I love you, eye to eye.

I am not sure if she was convinced by my eyeful response but the moral of the story is don’t trust the movies, man and always be ready to answer why to why when you make contact eye to eye.