My neighborhood doesn’t look like the one where I grew up. As a child, I lived in a lovely house at the end of a cul-de-sac, and it was a great place for me to be. I am thankful for my childhood home and the kind neighbors. But when I look out my window now, there are far more abandoned houses. Some homes are divided into apartments, and others are owned by families. There’s a group of homes near us that provides transitional housing for veterans and recovering addicts, and that makes some people uneasy (the residents are actually great neighbors). I live in an area that some people snub, thinking that it’s not as nice as the local suburbs. But I love it here. S and I moved here because we believe in the future of this neighborhood. It’s not a perfect place, but we have come to appreciate the beauty here. Being ill has allowed me to invest more into my neighborhood by getting to know neighbors and the people who walk by my house every day.
Today I willed myself to sit on the front porch, even though I felt exhausted from a medical appointment this morning. I came outside and I looked around to enjoy the mature trees, perfect weather, and cobblestone street. I glanced at our lawn and noticed that it was long. I added mowing the lawn to the mental list of chores that need to be done at home, and I tried to focus on the beautiful parts of my street instead. Then a neighbor I’d never met came over from across the street and started mowing my lawn. Right behind him was another man who I’ve been getting to know over the past few weeks, and he did some weed whacking and edging for us. I thanked them as tears welled up in my eyes and I tried not to cry. Thankfully, I was successful. I think the gentlemen would have been a little confused by tears.
My illness has brought feelings of isolation back into my life, and getting to know my neighbors has helped me feel like a part of something. However, today I felt pretty alone. When I had a few people show my a simple act of kindness, it made a big difference in my day. I was reminded that people in my neighborhood take pride where we live. And I felt privileged to have people around me who care enough to help me have a nice yard. It may be a small thing to some people, but it means a lot to me right now.
Please don’t underestimate the power of showing kindness to other people. You don’t need extra money to be kind, and it is a gift you can always give. Kindness is possible in the nicest neighborhood and the most run-down street. And it’s something that everyone understands, no matter their background. Please remember that some of us are fragile right now, and we may need some extra love. Feel free to ask us if you can help, because we can be too prideful to ask for a hand. We let the grass grow and the dishes pile up when things are tough, but we don’t like it at all. Or we may just feel alone and need someone to show us that we are not alone, even on our rough days.
Today I am grateful to live in a neighborhood where kindness can be clearly seen. I am grateful for the train whistles and kids yelling and neighborhood cats. I see hope for an area that some people ignore because I understand that while the kindness of my neighbors cannot be included in my property value, it certainly makes a difference in my life.