old man hunched over

Pain & Kindness, A Lesson Learned – by Carmelene Melanie Siani

I had gone to the Indian Market to buy Naan when I saw a man who was bent over from the waist, a huge hump on his back, enter the store.

Through the open door I could see that he had arrived on a bicycle.

“How does he manage to do that?” I’d thought.

His condition looked enormously painful to endure and I couldn’t imagine how difficult it must be for him to have to hold his neck curved up and out just to see while he was riding. He gave me a cheery good morning and a big smile as he walked by me, clearly quite comfortable with himself and confident about buying his groceries.

I stood in line, my back and leg aching, wondering how I was going to carry my own groceries out to the car.

In my mind I examined my own attitude toward my pain and the attitude of the man with the hump toward his.

“If he has pain, you sure wouldn’t know.”

I, on the other hand – make sure everybody knows. At least that’s how it seemed to me. I stepped carefully. I limped. I didn’t go up or down a step without holding on and there were times — lots of times — when I was crabby. Very crabby.

Poor me.

On top of it, I would criticize myself for all of that. Not exactly a helpful cocktail for overcoming pain in the first place.

The owner of the grocery store knows that I can’t carry anything more than 5 pounds and she offered to bring my box of groceries out to the car for me.

I went out ahead of her to clear a spot on the back seat and when I turned around to more or less say, “How about putting them on the seat,” I saw standing there holding my box of groceries not the owner of the grocery store, but the man with the hump.

He had that same bright smile on his face.

“Here you go ma’am,” he said. “Have a good day.”

I’ve never forgotten that man and his attitude, his infectious grin, and what I perceived to be his perseverance in the face of a chronic disability. I wondered if he had gained all of that positive perspective from sheer force of will — something I definitely lacked — when something inside me said,

“No. He didn’t get his attitude from force of will. He got his attitude from carrying other people’s groceries out to their car for them.

He got it not from expecting others to show kindness to him – but from him showing kindness to others.”



Author Bio: Carmelene Melanie Siani

Carmelene Melanie Siani

Carmelene writes stories from every day life and how life itself offers lessons to help us grow, expand, and put our feet on higher ground.

https://www.facebook.co/StoryBelly/



 

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32 comments

    1. Thank you for your comment Erika! That moment had a huge impact on me and forced me to think about how my absorption with my pain had given me a “self-focused” attitude. Thanks again for your comment!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I thought in the same direction when I read your post. How selfish we become when we feel a lack in something about us instead of seen the blessing in so many different things which would take the focus on that possible lack! Your story was very insightful!

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment KimberlyHarding. Isn’t it amazing how much the simple things can impact us? Many thanks and please drop by again! xoxoxo

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  1. Thank you for your comments Bobcabkings! I appreciate your thoughts. I have to admit – I’m a work in progress — sometimes it’s easier for me to WRITE about such things then it is to live by them. Thanks again! xoxo

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    1. “He didn’t get his attitude from force of will. He got his attitude from carrying other people’s groceries out to their car for them”

      I love that bit. Excellent story – thank you.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. I had to go visit this guy, and must say we like him quite a bit. From the sixties, some gave up on America and moved back to Africa- why stay for injustice? We think Saint Martin Luther King Jr. made the better choice, though, and really understood the Constitution and the meaning of America. The first time the phrase “Black Power” was used was when Stokley Charmichael broke away from the total pacifism of St. MLK. It is very hard not to get militant when they do what they did to James Meredith in Mississippi, or when cops hit women right in front of you. I dare say, he’d be lucky he had a badge, if it was preventable by standing up. Ya don’t hit girls!

          But I do want Chris Rock to see this “Thank You for posting on the Kindness blog, Mr. Militant Negro!!” (Part of why it is so funny is that we’re not allowed to use that word anymore here in the States).

          GObama!

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            1. Yeah1 It is proper to use the word people wnt to use, and you know America, they keep changing it! Better tyhan it was, though, in the days of King and Merideth, at least for a while. We hope ole trumpette is headed down after the republicans ripped on him, but it’ll be too late to save the party. Today we launched the Centrist Libertarian Constitutionalist party, which is basically Jefferson. I thought you were with the Charmichel guys who left, and can’t blame ’em. I tried to go to Canada te145 years ago.: quick, before Canada gets smart and builds a wall!

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            2. Hi, Mr. M.M.! We go with use whatever the guys your referring to like. We like your stuff! St. MLK is still cooler, but that’s ok! See ya round the neighborhood! P. S. That director called us “Lilly” about Hollywood, but that’s ok too. We appreciate him tring to prevent stuff like Jackie Robinson having to “break Through.”

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    1. Interesting comment Joanne Rambling — very interesting. Having had a lot of pain (due to a chronic illness that came on over the past 5 years) I would love to hear more of your thoughts on this subject. In my story, I allude to the fact that self pity was certainly a part of how I responded to the pain in my case — and yes, I can own up to self-pity being part of my response to life in general. Maybe that is what you mean? Very provocative comment. If you’d care to say more I would appreciate it very much! Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This reminds me of the story from church about a bunch of starving people sitting around a bowl of soup, where each guy has a spoon in their hand that can dip some soup, but no one can bend their elbow.

    We just answered a unique comment yesterday with carrying in the senior neighbor’s groceries as a good ice-melter, said it’l pay ya better’n minimum wage! The context of the discussion was about how what we do to one another in our writing in the Book of life, obviously, and when we enter the presence, the guys who harmed others are of course not well acclimated, and fry, while the book of life guys are stylin, soarin, and well yeah, eatin’ soup!

    One of the greatest joys of my entire life was the twenty years I spent working on occasion for my old friend Elise, who just fell off the apple tree at a rotten old 94, ripe as an old apple!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Its supposed to say is our writing in the Book of Life. The Book of Life is in the scripture, about Revelation 20. St. Augustine has this great comment on this, late in his book City of God. Each are of course judged according to what is written in the book of life, according to what they have done, especially toward one another. So, it is not only faith as some say, but each moment that touches the soul, and if the soul is immortal, the promise is that we take this with us. ‘Course, it could just be like a long dreamless sleep, but even then, who had the most fun? We have to help each other, just as if we cannot bend our own elbows!

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