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Kindness - The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Blog Date 17 April 2020

Kindness is something we have seen a lot about in recent press. The BE KIND campaign has been all over social media. Should we despair over the fact that we have to be reminded to be kind or celebrate that we are being reminded? Is being kind hard? I guess for some it must be otherwise we would not need to be reminded. Kindness is huge, it is surely the one thing, if practised by the many, that could have a profound positive impact on the entire world. 

During the current Corona COVID-19 crisis Germany performed an amazing act of kindness. They made some of their hospital beds available to both Italian and Spanish Covid-19 patients, in what they described as a act of solidarity with Europe. Germany did not selfishly guard their own resources, they held out a hand of friendship to a stranger and shared some of what they had. An amazing act of kindness with the potential to save many lives.

So this huge act of kindness got me thinking about kindness. In particular the kindness of strangers. We all no doubt, at some time or other, show acts of kindness to our loved ones, to our friends and family. But what about being kind to a stranger? As a motorcyclist and in particular whilst we are travelling, both near and far, we often encounter strangers. I am sure there has been occasions when such a meeting has resulted in something as huge as saving another persons life. 

However I am thinking here more of the small acts of kindness that often occur between people we meet on the road. These acts of kindness restore one's faith in human compassion and I often find that if we receive kindness it makes us more inclined to then offer it. Kindness is therefore a gift that keeps on giving. It passes on from one person to the next. Dare I say a virus of sorts but one that does good and brings happiness not sorrow. One that makes the world a better place to live in.

I myself have received simple acts of kindness while travelling. 

In a Spanish town desperate for a toilet a complete stranger picked up on my - er - desperation and asked if I was ok, could they help? After conveying my plight he directed me to the bus station as this had public toilets within. His kindness brought much relief.

The metal trellis roof and broad swathe of tarmac in the bus station at Burgos
Don day estar el boggo por favor? El bus, Burgos.

In the Netherlands I encountered many other acts of kindness.
 
Arriving late one night at a campsite, although full, the kindly owner found us a temporary spot for the night. The campsite owner could have just said they were fully booked but no they were kind enough to find us a solution. The next day we moved from the emergency space to the main camping field which now had a spot available. 

We took our belongings out of the tent and put them in the field. Then as we were putting the tent down the heavens opened. Damn, all our gear in the camping field was going to be soaked. But there was nothing we could do about it so we finished taking the tent down and despondently trudged to the camping field to our sodden belongings. 

Only when we got to the field we were greeted not by a bike boots filled with water but by all our gear lovingly wrapped in sheets of tarpaulin. We were met by smiles and waves from the doorways of other campers saying they could not of just stood there and see our belongings get wet so they covered it all for us.

Campers in caravans at the campsite in Edam, Netherlands
Kind campers in Edam
  
A beautiful act of kindness that kept our gear dry and in so doing kept us warm both physically but also internally with a warm fuzzy feeling in our hearts. 

Another day in the Netherlands, another campsite, another downpour while decamping. A couple in a camper van called us over to shelter from the rain beneath their awning. They provided us with hot tea to drink, introduced us to the delights of Stroopwafels and engaged in delightful conversation until the downpour had abated. Once again we departed warmed both by their tea and their kindness.  

An aged couple smiling in the awning of their caravan
Stroopwafels, tea and delightful smiles.

In France we arrived at a 5 star campsite. Nestled among trees and majestic strolling deer were a array of shiny modern mobile homes. Then there was us. We had endured a tough few days with torrential rain. Our previous campsite was less than ideal and was basically a quagmire. Therefore we and everything we owned was covered in a thick layer of mud. 

As we began to set up camp a lady emerged from the nearest camper. She stared at us, I thought I bet she is thinking "what the hell, how dare you rag -a -muffins pitch next to me." What happened in reality was she exclaimed, "Oh my goodness I was just going for a walk but I am going to go back in right now and make you both some tea and get you some biscuits because it looks like you need them."

None of these acts of kindness were heroic. But they spread happiness and they spread kindness because as I said before when you receive a gift of kindness you are compelled to pass it along. A few hours later we saw a new camper struggling to get there van into position. Refreshed by our tea and biscuits and wrapped in the glow of kindness we rushed over to offer assistance.  

Sometimes even if we ourselves are not the recipient of kindness but instead simply watch it being delivered to another can be enough to inspire us become a better person. Watching my own daughter, despite her being so poorly and struggling financially herself for many years, always stops to give money to the homeless, this truly humbles me. Seeing their gratitude, seeing them smile makes me want to offer my own gift of simple charity and kindness.

Sometimes the simple act of reading about kindness can be all the inspiration we need to become more kind ourselves.

To that end I want you all to share your acts of kindness both given and received. Let kindness spread one to the other, let kindness infect the world. 

Ren and Sharon's motorbikes in a big garage in spain with other motorcycles and a caravan
El moto en el ga-rah-ha? Muchas grassy ass, perfecto.


Contact Bikes And Travels on ren@bikesandtravels.com

Reader's Comments

Bogger said :-
Nicely put. I would like to think, what goes round comes around. Not always, but mainly.

Bogger
23/04/2020 10:12:18 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
I'd like to think so too. Sadly, experience seems to show the opposite. I wonder how long this outpouring of support for the NHS from a political party that has starved it of funds (and refused to pay nurses and doctors their well deserved pay rises) will last.....

But many thanks Sharon for these positive thoughts.
23/04/2020 10:41:37 UTC
Upt'North said :-
Sharon, ay up me duck. Yes kindness is lovely and when unexpected even lovelier.
I like to take fresh produce from the garden and leave it hanging off the neighbours door handles, I don't know if they all know where it's come from but they regularly get, lettuce, garlic, spring onions and rhubarb etc when in season. And Er'Indoors keeps many fed with fresh baked cake.
It's nice to be nice and in return we have received much in return.
My mum died recently, bless er soul, one of her many sayings was, "what you give out you get back ten times over", maybe, maybe not but the feelgood factor certainly makes it seem that way.
As an aside "mum" rode a Honda C50 on her postal round until she was a good age. She loved being out on that thing.
I do think many European nations are better at it than us, but we have our moments too.
Thanks Sharon.
Upt'North.
23/04/2020 01:03:33 UTC
Mark Noel said :-
Thanks for your beautiful musings, Sharon.

I have just finished reading 'Eureka', the second of Graham Field's books, the first being 'In Search of Greener Grass'. These both describe epic motorcycle journeys which took him through challenging terrain and politically unstable places, one of which was Mosul in Iraq. Although he is not religious, he frequently refers to the concept of karma or the spiritual credit that accrues from offering kindness and help to others. Conversely, bad karma happens when you hurt or refuse help to others, for example. These extraordinary books are entertaining and an inspiration to anyone interested in motorcycle travel.

This is undoubtedly a time when good karma is accumulating in the hearts of most people as we struggle to support others through good deeds and also to survive ourselves against all odds. Perhaps good karma will in future go viral (excuse the pun)!
26/04/2020 05:26:09 UTC
CrazyFrog said :-
I try to do at least one 'random act of kindness' to people I don't know every day. Not too easy at the moment granted, but in the normal(?) life I lead, fairly easy. Holding a door open for somebody, helping somebody on or off a train with luggage or pushchairs, taking cup and plate back up the counter in cafés, taking glasses back to the bar in pubs etc. I've always had a positive response and can think of no downsides to doing this.

I don't do it for religious or political reasons, but just because it costs nothing, is a nice thing to do and because I was dragged up proper...
26/04/2020 05:50:17 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
My random acts of kindness are usually in the form of keeping my gob shut. This avoids my special superpower - saying the wrong thing.

I've met Graham a handful of times. He's a proper hippie in the best way, calm, soft spoken, thoughtful and funny. I don't know him well but he seems quite deep too. Likes a beer or two!
26/04/2020 10:18:48 UTC
Sharon said :-
Thanks all for sharing your stories.

Ian
The bad side of life is often what goes reported. We can therefore become very cynical and believe the world to be a bad place full of evil people out to do us harm. Fear breeds fear, hate breeds hate and so on. That is why it is good to also talk of the good in the world. To see our fellow humans as not enemies or rascals but as a friend we have yet to meet. I by my own nature am not very sociable. I often prefer the company of animals and plants to humans. However by trying to look for the good in people, to open my eyes to the kindness of humans I find myself more comfortable and happier around people. You often find what you seek. Once we determine in our minds that other people are all corrupt and evil then this is what we focus on and see. I do not deny such people exist of course they do. But it always good to look for the positive in our humankind. After all we even call ourselves kind humans do we not. Kindness ..It is there in abundance. I just think we have forgotten how to see it.

Upt'North
Thank you for being so kind. You make the world a better place for your gifts.

Mark
I have met Graham and I like him a lot, he is a lovely chap. I have had very little time of late for the pleasures of reading but his books have been on my must read list. Maybe you could write a review on his book and we could add a book review section on here?

CrazyFrog
Thank you also for your kindness and making the world that little be nicer.
28/04/2020 11:16:01 UTC

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