Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Organizations of Kindness

I want to belong to organizations of kindness.

Yesterday, I met with a friend I work with. We are planning a three-week summer institute devoted to writing, reading, and teaching. The point is to create something the participants will savor, that will change their lives. We do that by creating room for each person to share themselves and take chances. It isn't about my friend and me. It's all about our people. We help create an organization of kindness. What a blessing! No wonder the work of planning sets me trembling with delight.

Last night, after dinner, my wife and I took the dog for a walk. We hadn't seen much of one another, our day so busy, and we were as grateful as the dog for the chance to stroll side by side. The sound of my wife's voice is a kindness all its own. We talked about our daughters. We both worry about them, wondering if we are doing right. Our walk was an expression of kindness and caring for one another, for our daughters, and the dog.

Years ago I worked in an English department at Fayetteville-Manlius. I was the kid there. Most of the teachers had been my high school teachers yet, through some kind of magic, they treated me as an energetic if occasionally misguided colleague welcomed into their family of teachers. They gave me reams of plans, hours of advice, and patient of ears. They taught that master teachers listen to and guide young, green kids longing to be teachers. They cared for me as if I was their own child.

As I look for a new job, I have called on friends for favors, something with which I'm awkward. I've long believed that it is intrusive to bother anyone and that I should do things on my own. I'm afraid to ask for help but there's no way around it. So I've asked and every time, I've received kindness above what I have asked and beyond what I expected. Friends offer to serve as references, suggest people to whom I might apply, help me revise my applications, and offer to make calls on my behalf.

I suppose that some of these aren't organizations so much as family and clutches of friends. That word, organizations, came to mind because of my job. I work in an organization based on something other than kindness. I'm sympathetic to their plight, but understanding what the place is and is not is has me looking for something new. I know what I want and need. I know what is missing in my life. I'm not looking to break up the organization or reform it. I just know it's time to leave.

I love working in the writing project, walking and talking with my wife about our daughters, being surrounded by the kindness of friends and colleagues. Choosing those and leaving organizations based on something other than kindness is good sense. Kindness makes my world go round. I'm greedy for more of it for no better reason than it helps me breathe, smile, and write on.