Last weekend I read a profile of Tom Hanks in the New York Times that made my heart explode. Sure he’s a gifted actor, and I’ve always loved his movies, but I had no clue just how kind and decent he is. Quick example: While shooting a movie in Rome, he learned a bride and her father could not navigate around the film set to get to the church. Hanks stopped filming and personally escorted them to the altar.
As we enter this season of gratitude, let’s think of an act of kindness that touched our own lives. I’ll go first: When I brought my second child home from the hospital, it took me about five minutes to realize I was in over my head. My two-year-old despised her new sister and wanted her returned to the hospital like, yesterday, and I was so, so tired. Friends reached out but I was too overwhelmed to respond. If I had responded, it would have consisted of two words— “I’m dying”—which no one really wants to hear. Finally a good friend managed to get me on the phone. Sensing the exhaustion in my voice, she ordered me to bring my two-year-old to her house. When I showed up, she led my daughter inside and told me not come back until bedtime. “Sleep, watch TV, do whatever you need to do, but GO!” she said. “I’ve got this.” I walked back to my car and burst into tears. I’m not even sure if my friend remembers this day, but I’ll never forget it.
But that’s the thing about kindness. It works best when we don’t expect it.
PS A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, starring Hanks as Mister Rodgers is out now! Plus, a great podcast about kindness!