Tag Archives: Kindness

O Captain! My Captain!

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;

Rise up–for you the flag is flung–for you the bugle trills,

For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths–for you the shores a-crowding,

For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning…

–Walt Whitman


My heart is heavy today, as are many of yours, at least on this side of the world.  A great light has gone out.  A voice has been stilled.  Though we know that the moments we have with the people who elevate their art to a professional level–making so many of us laugh, or think, or escape our mundane little lives for and hour and a half while they give us a good show–it’s still a shock when they are gone.

Robin Williams made so many people laugh.  My best friend Ryan put it best, “It makes me so sad that he died from being so sad.”  It’s hard to fathom the depth of that sadness, for most of us.

Part of experiencing human life is feeling the emotion of depression.  For most of us, that’s how we experience it–an emotion. But for some of our brothers and sisters in this life, depression is a disease.

Depression is as serious as cancer, or heart disease, or a variety of metabolic dysfunctions.  And just like all those other illnesses, depression can be terminal, even with a great treatment plan, even with lots of support, even when things seem to be going in the right direction.  Just like massive heart attacks after years of clean eating and good exercise, or a relapse after extensive remission, or a devastating little infection that won’t clear up with any medicine known to exist.  And that sucks.  It’s brutal and scary and hard.  But it’s true.  And unless and until we stop pretending that depression is something someone can help having, something someone has control over, we will continue to have people we love, famous and ordinary and next door, die from it.

We have to stop talking about how people who die from depression are selfish.  You’d never say that about someone who died from a brain tumor.  We have to stop shaming people for taking appropriate pharmaceutical steps to treat depression, and from seeking professional counseling.  You would never say that about someone who needed to take insulin, or a blood thinner to stay alive.  We have to make mental healthcare check-ups as important as our yearly physicals–and they should be affordable for everyone, including and especially children.  Most importantly, we have to be willing to talk to the people in our lives we are concerned about–we must not wait until they start acting out.  Don’t put the burden on someone who’s hurting to come and talk to you.  Think of it like being aware at the airport–if you see something, say something.  And for the love of little green apples, be kind and loving.

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, please know that you are not as alone as you feel.  You are not stuck.  You are amazing.  You are beloved.  Your place in the world–who you are and how you are–is holy, and important.  You give joy in ways you cannot imagine.  People are praying for you, right now.  People are loving you, right down to your toes, right now.  Good things are coming.  Hold on.  You can do it, and all the people who love you want to help, in good and kind ways.  Your friends at thedailycake.org are grateful that you read this, and if you want to email any of us to talk about your stories, or to reach out for more information on how you or someone you love can begin recovery, please contact us by following the links on our “About Us” page.

Robin Williams…you were a piece of my happy early childhood, with your lovable alien Mork, clips of stand up I was probably too young to really appreciate, star in some of my most favorite movies, and the best James Lipton interview I’ve ever seen…may you rest in peace, and rise in glory.

Watch this…







Thoughts for Thursday

I hope that made you chuckle.

I was thinking about this the other day and I wanted to share it with you guys:

I love the basic human interaction of talking to another receptionist.

See, I work at a doctor’s office. I spend A LOT of time on the phone talking to people. Talking to patients, talking to relatives of patients, talking to other doctor’s offices, drug reps, law firms, pharmacies. You name it. But by far my favorite people to talk to are other receptionists.

I think what is so comforting is that when the phone lines are ringing off the hook and I’m by myself they understand when every two seconds I’m like “Ack.. hold on a sec..” “Uhh hold on let me grab this line real quick” and I get back on the line, breathless from having to quickly say the name of the place I work, plus my name, plus ‘can you hold for just a moment? thanks..’ and they know. They get it. They understand.

It’s these simple little human interactions that make me smile, that make me feel like I can handle whatever this day is going to throw at me. This feeling that I’m not alone, there are other people out there trying to do the same thing, and yeah receptionisting may not solve the energy crisis or world hunger or anything like that, but it gives me hundreds of little chances every day to make someone’s day. To be pleasant. To smile and chat warmly. To offer my own condolences and understandings to other receptionists out there.

So when you’re out there in the world this week, dear readers, smile and greet your receptionist. Make pithy comments about the weather to the cashier at the grocery store. Compliment them on their smile and how friendly they are. If they look like they’ve been there for nine hours straight with a thirty minute lunch break, do something that reminds them they are human, they are loved, and hey, maybe it’s not so bad.

And please, pretty pretty please, try not to get (too?) angry if you’ve been on hold for five minutes. I promise we’re not just sitting there twiddling our thumbs. We’re frantically handling five phone lines, maybe by ourselves, and we’re doing the best we can. Show us some grace, some compassion, and I promise whatever it is you’re calling about will get treated just like the other four calls that might have been in front of you. We all need a little kindness, and we’re only human.

George Saunders and Love

In the tradition of great writers giving graduation speeches, a speech by George Saunders has been going around. It includes a lot of good advice, which boils down to “err on the side of kindness.” It’s lovely and affecting.

I’d like to highlight a couple of paragraphs that I think are helpful to any young adult trying to figure things out. First this:  

“If we’re going to become kinder, that process has to include taking ourselves seriously – as doers, as accomplishers, as dreamers.  We have to do that, to be our best selves.”

This is something I’ve had to learn, and I don’t think I’m alone. Not too seriously, of course, but you are an adult now, and maybe it’s time to stop making all those self-deprecating jokes that hide your insecurities, to stop laughing off all your faults as quirks, and to just do better, because you know you can do better. To some this comes naturally. To others it takes some work.

This is the second thing:

“As you get older, your self will diminish and you will grow in love.  YOU will gradually be replaced by LOVE.”

Which sounds to me a bit like John the Baptist out in the desert shouting “He must increase and I must decrease.” He being Christ, or God, or Love, and I being all the stuff that gets in the way of Love – selfishness and pettiness and anger and hate.

Err on the side of kindness, friends. It’s good advice. Or put another way, Love one another. Do it now.