Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fifteen Minutes a Day

I sometimes forget how easy it is to be nice. Not that I'm normally mean - at least I hope I'm not - but there's a difference between being decent and going out of your way to actively make something better in the world. But "make something better" doesn't often get penciled into your post-7pm personal to-do list of the day (commute, get groceries, cook, wash dishes, pay bills, reply to personal emails, blog, read industry articles, etc). My idea of "making something better" at the end of a hard day is a hug from my partner and a glass of wine.  It's my survival instinct turning on, pulling me inward so I can hold tight to my personal kernel of sanity and relief.

Other people don't necessarily register when you're protectively pulling in. 15 minutes feel huge when your mind is already experimenting with scheduling contortions and configurations to make space for your immediate task list needs. But sometimes, 15 minutes is all it takes to make a day exponentially better. A flash-in-the-pan moment of kindness can spread its glow through the entire week. A slight detour on my commute home to visit a flower shop and stop at my parents' house was all it took to remind me that kindness is surprisingly simple. It took 15 minutes. Maybe 20. Just enough time to leave flowers and a card on their front table, so they're welcomed home with beauty and love after a long trip.

It made me think about how an unexpected email, phone call, or kind comment can brighten my day. How surprise flowers from Jason can shift my energies from their normal state of exhaustion into appreciation and thankfulness. And I only hope that the flowers for my parents help shift the energy of their long multi-flight journey into relief at being home, in every sense of the word. It's not much. I wish I could do more. But even a 15 minute detour is enough time for a floral burst of Joy. Multiplied. Flowers and happiness made stronger through a tiny act of giving.

Picture of my mother's roses, which greeted me on my 15 minute detour


  1. I think that cool and ironic make us forget how lovely plain, heartfelt kindness can be. And as I've gotten older I appreciate kindness more and more, probably because I understand the value of love much better.

  2. One of the things about my busy life that makes me saddest is that I don't have time to be as nice as I'd like to be to the people in my life that deserve it. That's the hard part about being an hour away from my family and lifelong friends. It's pretty close, but it's too far for the random drop in or help out on a week day moments and I miss those. I try to drop occasional "just because" notes in the mail as a little substitute.

    I'm sure your parents loved the flowers.

  3. @Rachel - Oh! Handwritten cards! I'm so terrible about that (still working on TY cards because I spend SO MUCH TIME on each one and really, I have zero time.) After I'm done with the thank yous, I would love to aim for a random card a month, which feels doable.


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