One Single Act of Kindess

What if your act of kindness is the only one another person experiences today?

For several years, I worked as a barista at a coffee shop by the water in downtown Annapolis, MD. We had a lot of regulars every morning, some more awake and happy to be there than others. I did my best to be outgoing and friendly, with varying degrees of success. I have always been somewhat of a morning person, but I haven’t always been outgoing or friendly. It was a challenge on some days, but it was my job.

On one particular day, really no different than any other, I was calling down the line, making drinks, and handing them off to people when I realized something. I was seeing these people at the very beginning of their day. It was early. They hadn’t had their coffee yet. I might have been the first person they interacted with that day or I might simply have been the first person who was nice to them that day. I also might be the last person to be nice to them that day.

It occurred to me that I literally had the opportunity to start someone’s day on a positive note if I wanted to. Even if no one else treated that person kindly on that day, I was going to. Maybe, just maybe, I could change the entire trajectory of a person’s day with a smile, a warm greeting, a hot cup of coffee, and acknowledgment of his or her existence and worth. Maybe if we all did this, we could change the trajectory of our entire culture or the whole world.

Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

-Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body, Severna Park’s Holistic Chamber of Commerce, and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

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