She’s a nice person. Oh, yes, he’s very kind. Phrases that people overuse. Perhaps a rather generic and dull way to describe someone.
But this week I’ve been thinking about these virtues. I value them above almost all else. I only keep those in my life who possess them. I try my very hardest to live with them always at the heart of what I do. It’s never enough. But I try.
Sometimes, at my job, I get to work with young people. And I have the great fortune of working with one such young person who is pure light. Always laughing. Always smiling. Her eyes growing huge when she talks excitedly about all the things that are happening to her. I’m going to have hot chocolate! I’m on the student council! I’m going to learn chinese!
Her mother walks in with armfuls of books she wants to recommend. We thought of you, she says because we all discuss books when we see one another. When will we see you again? She always wonders, a look of geniune concern on her face that we may not see one another for a while. And I’m always surprised that it matters to her. That she cares.
What I’m trying to say is these are the people I am talking about. These kind people. Nice people. This is that mother and daughter pair.
Yesterday I talked with this mother about her daughter. How incredibly alive she is. And she told me that her daughter is so rarely unhappy, almost never upset. But when she is, because of course, it happens, it is an incredible sadness, deep and gutwrenching, like nothing else she sees in her other children. Her daughter just can not comprehend why anyone would be mean to her or anyone else. And it worries her.
It struck me because I remember sitting with my mother at the kitchen table. I don’t remember how old I was or what had happened but I was in absolute hysterics. And my mother was getting upset because she could not calm me. I distinctly remember her saying: I worry about this, Melissa. I worry that this is going to be a big issue for you. For the rest of your life. You don’t understand that people can be mean.
So, during a week of some disappointment, mean people stomping in and having their way, I think about this sensitivity. This flat out, I’ll admit, naivete. And I think about my young friend. And all the other people in my life, who I keep in my life, because they don’t understand the mean-person syndrome either. And I don’t know if it is an issue. A problem. A worry.