Interviewsand Articles


When There Is No Language, Speak Kindness

by Kristin Pedemonti, Aug 23, 2021



Perhaps, you also grew up with this notion: that to be of value, it has to be big.  And what if that notion is not true? What if it is the seemingly small actions that are in fact, of great value? What if these seemingly small actions are what connect us one to another and open the gateway to deeper understanding?

When there is no language, speak kindness.
Remember in the before time, when we could touch? And when we could travel?

For a few minutes I’d like to take you back to that time…. 

My seat mate on the overnight flight from Seoul to DC was an 89 year old Asian woman.

Our first sentence, a smile.
Our second, a lil pat on the arm from her to me with a point to herself,  "89." She smiles.
I smile. 
I point to myself and say, “I’m Kristin.”
We smile.
We settle in.

A short while later I'm trying to sleep, curled up against the window, my legs folded under me. No one's in the middle seat.

She reaches over and pulls my legs onto the middle seat stretching me out. She covers me with a blanket and gently pats my legs.

I smile, put my hands in Namaste and bow my head.
I sleep.
I wake.  
She is rubbing her calves and grimacing.
I gently reach over and guide her legs onto the middle seat. I pat her legs and then very gently massage them. She pats my hands and smiles.

I gesture for us to switch seats so she can lean against the window and perhaps, more comfortably stretch out her legs across the seat. We rise, we slowly move around each other trading spaces.
I gently pull her legs across the middle seat, I gently massage her calves. She sleeps.

Hours pass. She wakes.
There is turbulence, really bad turbulence.  I'm scared. I'm praying, my hands over my heart. She sees me.

She pats me on the arm. Puts her hands in Namaste and then touches the wooden beads given to me in Bali, she says something in words I do not understand, perhaps her own prayers. She continues to pat my hands, “Ok, ok,” she says. Through my fear, I smile.

The turbulence ebbs. We are nearing the end of our flight. The flight attendants are making their last pass down the aisles readying for landing. I smile and call a flight attendant over to us. I ask if she can ask the woman what language she speaks and if they speak the same language, please I wish to express my gratitude for kindness shared and to tell this caring elder her heart is beautiful.

The flight attendant smiles. She and the elderly woman speak to each other. The flight attendant shares what I have said about my gratitude for the kindness and that this elder’s heart is beautiful.

The elder woman smiles. She reaches out with both her hands towards my face, she gently holds my face between her hands. She pulls me closer until our foreheads are touching. We breathe in and out together. She slowly pulls back and we simply look at each other smiling.

Our language kindness and smiles. Connecting across culture, age, continents and oceans.

Who might you connect with through the language of kindness and smiles?        


About the Author

Kristin Pedemonti specializes in unpacking and exploring complex layered topics so we can more easily understand, communicate, and connect with each other. She also believes in kindness to everyone, no exceptions.

Kristin is a National Storytelling Network International StoryBridge Award recipient for her work across cultures. She's performed on 5 continents, in 20 countries - her favorite so far, Iran.   

Kristin is also a published author,  A Bridge of Stories,  a Storytelling Consultant at the World Bank, and Founder/Facilitator of Steer Your (inner) Story - a recovery from trauma program based on Narrative Therapy practices bolstered by the Master’s Program at University of Melbourne.



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