If one were to ask a child to write a short piece about an act of kindness, we all know that there is a possibility of the essay turning out to be the protagonist helping someone to cross the road. The question is, how many of us would roll our eyes as this is the millionth time someone thought about that? Additionally, what is the possibility of that happening in real life? While I used to have such a reaction, recent events have rendered me as the kid who is writing that essay.
As I was on my way to lunch, I saw a plump lady sitting by the bustop and she called me as I walked past her. Lo and behold, I was asked to perform that act that millions of children have written about at least once in their lifetime. Being an eye-rolling cliche, one would expect that one would know exactly what to do.
Yet, what happens next will shock me into a revelation. I felt extremely awkward in helping her as I did not know what best to do (kids please write clearly what the protagonist did and not "he helped her across the road"). Do I hold her arm and guide her across or offer my arm for her to hold onto it for support? Being a strong believer of modesty, I limply offered my arm as she held onto it to get on to the curb. This experience certainly left me feeling empty as I felt that I did not really help her at all.
So what happened here? An act that was meant to help someone became a self-conscious act of deciding what to do. And what was usually regarded as something trivial became a real test for me. It really drove home the point that kindness is not merely performing the act but in being there and ensuring that you are doing all you can to make the life of the other person better.
It is amazing how an eye-rolling cliche made me a child that day...