After a long Monday, I came home from my aqua intervals class and started baking.
I hate baking. I am absolutely terrible at it.
I love cooking and I’m pretty darn good at it. I love to try new recipes, tweak old ones, play around to find deliciousness. I don’t know what it is about baking. Maybe it’s because you have to be very precise and…I’m just not that kind of girl. Plus, without fail, I burn myself.
So, why did I spend my Monday evening baking cakes? It’s all about being kind.
When I was little, my mom taught me the Golden Rule, to “do unto others” or to treat others as you would like to be treated. She would tell me to “play nice” with the neighbors, even if I didn’t like them and even if they weren’t particularly nice to me. I learned early on that I wouldn’t like everyone and not everyone would like me…but that that didn’t mean I didn’t have to play nice – whether I was on the elementary school playground or in the boardroom. Yet more and more, the Golden Rule seems to have fallen by the wayside in our world. Is it really that hard to be kind? To extend courtesy to another, to treat another with respect and decency?
I have worked with teenagers for many years now. This is very much a problem in that group, as some of us can tell you, having lived through the worst of it. Time and time again, I’ve heard the refrain, “Kids can be mean.” You know what? So can grown ups. There have been many times when a student was telling me of her struggles with girls in school or even youth group, of how mean someone (or a group of someones) was being to her for petty or unknown reasons. While I can tell her in all honesty that it does get better, I can’t tell her that it goes away when you grow up. It’s just different…but no less hurtful in some ways.
I’m by no means a pollyanna. I can sling snark and poisoned barbs just like the rest (some might even say better), especially when I feel provoked, stressed or overtired. There are plenty of people I don’t care for that I have to interact with in my life. But when a need arises or the situation calls for it, I do my best to act like a grown up, suck it up and behave myself. Yet I’m constantly amazed by those who can’t, won’t or simply don’t; who can’t for a half hour show common courtesy, respect and decency to another in celebration of a life’s milestone or in another’s time of grief. Those are the moments that stay with you, not the every day ins and outs. You remember who celebrated with you, who grieved with you, who simply showed you courtesy.
I’ll often ask myself what I’d want someone else to do if the situation was reversed. Would I want someone to hold the door for me when my arms were full? Yes. Would I want someone to ask if I needed anything when they were going out to pick something up at lunchtime? Yes. Would I want someone to acknowledge my birthday? Um, if you know me, that’s a resounding YES. Would I want someone to acknowledge a huge life event? Yes, yes, I would. A smile, a hello, even a nod of acknowledgement…all these things can go a long way.
And so I spent my evening backing cakes to celebrate this month’s birthdays in my office. I hope others join me in celebrating these folks today – and I hope that their day is made a little brighter for it.
Because, really, whose life can’t use a little more sweetness?