Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was the founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake Poets. Here is one of his quotes:
"The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions - the little, soon forgotten charities of a kiss or a smile, a kind look or heartfelt compliment."
This quote touched me. First, I wasn't sure if I agreed with the words "soon forgotten charities." A kind look or an unexpected compliment is not easily forgotten. Perhaps he meant that the person imparting the smile soon forgets. The recipient may remember for a long time.
I fervently agree that happiness is made up of small gestures. When my 5-year-old Labrador, Lucy, unexpectedly died in less than 24 hours, I was amazed at the kindness bestowed upon me. One friend sent flowers. Another left a bag at my front door containing a sympathy card, my favorite perfume (Coco Chanel) and Godiva chocolates. Still crying, I marveled at how she'd remembered what perfume I wore, and at her extreme thoughtfulness.
When I moved from California, a friend prepared an excellent dinner for me and my two other best friends. An incredible evening, never forgotten.
What do we remember in life? One of my bright spots was being in Paris on the day I celebrated 15 years of sobriety. My husband and I went to the American Club to an AA meeting. The greeter asked where we came from. As soon as I mentioned California and celebrating 15 years of being sober, he asked me to lead the meeting! There were men and women from all over the world at this meeting. Not only did I have a fabulous experience, but I appreciated the act of kindness from another recovering alcoholic.
A few days ago I was at a restaurant. A woman at a nearby table was dining alone. She wore an elegant outfit topped off with a stunning hat. Unable to control myself, I walked over to her. "Ms., I hope you won't think I'm rude or annoying, but I wanted to tell you how lovely you look in that outfit."
Tears came to her eyes. For a second, I'd thought I'd been terribly crass. Placing her hand on my arm, she said, "Thank you so much. You have no idea how much your words mean to me. My husband died three months ago, and this is the first time I've been to a restaurant alone. Your kindness made my day."
Getting back to my table, my friend said, "Gee, what did you say to her? She went from looking suicidal to actually smiling."
Recently a phone call from a friend reminding me the Tony Awards would be aired that evening touched my soul. How wonderful to have someone remember my love of theater. Little gestures mean the world to me.
That's how life is. Take the time to be kind. Send the get-well card, call the friend who is going through a bad time, deliver some home-made soup, and make people feel cared for. How many times have you thought of doing something special for someone but resisted the impulse? Instead of resisting, take the action. Not only will you delight someone, you will be surprised at how joyous you feel.
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