Art in Our Kind Words

Nobel Prize Literature Winner Samuel Beckett said, “Words are all we have.” Indeed, sometimes words are all we have. Especially, our ‘kind words’.

No loss, no gain? Perhaps. There are times when it’s loss, alone.

My friend Kit’s brother passed away following an abbreviated illness. I scanned the Facebook post including her brother’s obituary. Kit and her husband Earl, who’s my close friend from high school, live on the East Coast. I’m here in Los Angeles. I have not seen them in several years.

From reading the brief obituary, I got Kit’s Brother was someone very special, indeed. I wrote back: “I wish I could have known your Brother.” Kit quoted Shakespeare, “the world is broad and wide.” Her reference comes from “Romeo and Juliet”: “Be patient for the world is broad and wide… You should be able to endure this because the world is broad and wide.”

I got Kit’s profound sadness, her profound sense of loss. I fondly recalled the quote from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” which had always touched my soul. I wrote back, “[Good-night, sweet Prince;] And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest…”

Words were all I had, albeit the eloquence of Shakespeare, not mine own. Kit found comfort in those kind words.

Our words yield tremendous power. Our kind words can give life, heal, and comfort in times of suffering. Our unkind words can harm, hurt, and take life away. The saying goes: With great power, comes great responsibility. In creating Art in our life, we use our powers for good, not evil. Again, just saying.

Throughout my life, I’ve experienced both the unkind and the kind words of others. When I was 10 years old, Dad yelled at me, “You’re just like [your mother]!” No that was not intended high props from Dad. Those words hurt deep down. How else was I supposed to feel? Even being a little more enlightened and forgiving at 57, recalling those words still makes me cringe inside. Again, words yield profound and lasting power.

On the other end of that spectrum, I fondly remember having lunch with my dear friend Mo. Mo had led a community service project program that I participated in. Mo and I had both completed programs in transformational education. We were also about the same age.

We were on lunch break for a training session in Downtown Los Angeles. While eating our pastrami sandwiches, Mo said that she saw my Mom over some weekend. Mom was in town from Hawaii participating in one of the programs that we both had completed in the past.

Mo said “Hi” to my Mom. Then she told my Mom, “You did a good job with Jon.” I was caught completely off guard. Stopped chewing. I was so profoundly moved and touched. To this day, what Mo said is the nicest thing that anyone has said about me. The thing is: It wasn’t really about me. It was about my Mom. My Mom, who’s now 89-year-old and living in a Seniors Home in Honolulu is my Hero. She always has been.

I guess what I’m trying to say: Use kind words as your pallet for your Mural of Life. As my dear friend Cheryl says, “Kindness begets kindness.” And the world and all of us are the greater for that kindness. Amen. Amen.

Have you read the original anthology that was the catalyst for The Good Men Project? Buy here: The Good Men Project: Real Stories from the Front Lines of Modern Manhood

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