Henry James: Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind.

So, the Bean has recovered from her weird fever, which according to her teacher has been going around. Nothing else–no sniffles, no coughing just intermittent bouts of high fever forcing you to throw (gently place) your child into a lukewarm bathtub whilst hiding your hyperventilation. I have to consciously do so, because my first inclination (which sometimes I can’t control) is to freak right the hell out. Which is not useful. I don’t do this around the child involved though, usually just on the phone with J, which has made him start most phone calls now with “First of all, everybody is OK,” at least when he’s out with the Bean in some situation involving playground equipment, big mice and cheese or other extreme sports.

So now I can think, a little. I’m still tired out of my freaking mind. I cannot figure this out. We’ve been busy and our schedules are off, but why do I want to slam headlong into an afternoon nap? It’s odd.

The thing preying on my mind recently is well, both how kind and unkind I’ve become as I’ve gotten older. As a kid I was kind by nature, and perhaps because of fear. When you are an outcast and prone to having your head flushed down the toilet or your lack of endowment loudly mentioned in economics class you perhaps are a bit meek. And meek can (but doesn’t have to) mean kind. It did for me at least until senior year and my father died and I went crazy and shaved my head and bought some combat boots. Then I started calling out the boasting ones for their lack, usually of intelligence, often of vocabulary.But, in my cabal we were mostly good to each other. We built each other up (usually) and stood in the way of the slings and arrows for our friends.

Later, being a part of another outgroup or two we really had to be good to each other. Our feelings were often near the surface and fragile things, easily torn, quickly burned up with harsh words.

Then came a time of power. As a senior sysadmin and part of a large enough sub culture (of the gothic persuasion) both pursuits given to sarcasm and intrigue–I learned to be harsh and archly witty. At least where only my friends could hear me. I enjoyed the nearly drunken feeling that my fierce badinage gave me. Finally *I* was on top of the mountain in my career and my play.

That lasted a while, until Chicago, when I came across some folks who put me to shame. Their cruelty was unstoppable and mine stopped. The Bean was born and suddenly kindness became terribly important once again. The kindness of others and the kindness to our child. We became parents and therefore role models. We moved away from the city and discovered it was easier to make new friends if you were kind. And so we both returned to our default setting. We’re nice folks and like to do nice things for people.

And here, back in Fayetteville we are nice again. And we have an amazing group of people around us who are likewise giving and thoughtful.

Being kind is even more important now .

J and Buddhism call it “right speech,”which “Buddha explained right speech as follows: 1. to abstain from false speech, especially not to tell deliberate lies and not to speak deceitfully, 2. to abstain from slanderous speech and not to use words maliciously against others, 3. to abstain from harsh words that offend or hurt others, and 4. to abstain from idle chatter that lacks purpose or depth. Positively phrased, this means to tell the truth, to speak friendly, warm, and gently and to talk only when necessary.” And I have to say when I run into or see someone who has wronged me in the past I have a great problem with 2 and 3. I walk away after exchanging pleasantries and begin ripping. When I hear those ugly words come out of my mouth (oh god she’s gotten fat or he’s *insert cruel insult here*) and know that I’m only saying them because I’m angry (from years ago or recently) at how they’ve treated me or because they intimidate me (still or recently) for some really trifling reason, or even,well,jealousy it feels and sounds like vomiting bile.

I guess it’s good that it is that noticeable, that it isn’t my general way. I remember each harsh word and shudder. That isn’t me and it shouldn’t happen. Even if they are or were horrid people or wounded me terribly at some point, it really is unnecessary and it leaves a blot in my mind and disquiet in my soul.

Interestingly I have recently re-met a cheerleader that pantsed me in high school. She apologized and I er, like her. That’s a wonder and now a healed wound, years in the scabbed stage and now finally a fading scar.

I guess it comes down to being the kind of person I’d want my daughter to be and that kind of person is not unkind and doesn’t fling ugly words and thoughts about with abandon or really fling them much at all.

Unless it’s about politics.

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