Paralysing Fear and Random Acts of Kindness in the Shadows

For the next month, I am joining in the fun over at BootsnAll and writing for the 30 Days of Indie Travel? Each day, they give you a prompt that you can interpret however creatively or practically as you want.

#5 and #6 (that often go hand-in-hand):
One of the greatest joys of travel can be the random acts of kindness you’ll receive from total strangers. Have you ever found kindness from strangers in unexpected places?
Just as travel can be fun and exciting, it can also have its challenging, or even downright scary, moments. Being in a new place pushes us out of our comfort zone and makes us face our fears. Tell about a time you had to face your fear when traveling, and what was the result.

Kindness is an act that too often goes on anonymously and is too often overshadowed by the fear — a small act of discomfort or loss — that preceded it. I see acts of compassion everyday, whether on the road to nowhere or on the road to the grocery store — tears of desperation are dried by an observant passerby; someone who speak English in a foreign world stops to ask if you’re OK; someone reaches, unasked, to the highest shelf for a man in a wheelchair; using only hand signals, soldiers on a train to Asilah help you un-lose yourself in the bustle of commuters and beach goers and hundreds of stops.
Street Jazz
I see the acts every day, and every day they get filed in the back of my head under “Aw, wasn’t that thoughtful,” right behind the list of distant relatives’ birthdays. You know it’s happened, but you never think of it again.
What does stick with you is the sense of fear-abandonment-loss-panic-anger that created the need for kindness in the first place. I can remember being followed home early on in my time in Rabat, Morocco and heading to my “bedroom” in my host family’s salon and breaking down in tears from the sheer exhaustion of being scared. Someone eventually made me feel more like me, someone made me stay. But whether it was my host family or the kind waiter at the Cafe 7eme Art or an instructor or student at the language school or the guy who always sold me pastries at the bakery at the corner of the Old Medina or someone else whose face has disappeared entirely, I cannot remember. It’s hard to recall compassion in the face of adrenaline and an ancient survival instinct. No one takes photos of the man who gives directions when you’re lost, or the woman who gives you a free scone when you’re sad, or the person that smiles at you at that one critical moment of flight or fight.

All any of us can do is remember when we were there, lost and alone and sad and scared and insecure and unsure, and that it’s our turn to be that person that someone will soon forget but who could change a life.


3 Responses to Paralysing Fear and Random Acts of Kindness in the Shadows

  1. […] many people posted stories about how someone else showed them kindness, a few people reminded us we can often be the person who eases another’s fears and show them the kindness we hope to receive from others. Fluent in Frolicking says she makes […]

  2. Great post…sorry I missed it earlier in the Project:)

  3. […] just sort of defer to what Kathryn Pardo says about the subject. It almost certainly has happened to every one of us, but we don’t […]

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