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 point to myself and say, “I’m Kristin.”
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.
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.
Share Your Comments and Reflections on this Conversation:
On Jan 8, 2022 Helen Gennari wrote:An awesome story that fills me with joy and appreciation of the simplicity of communicating kindness, love~~so sad about what often holds us back from that deeply human communication.
On Dec 30, 2021 Beth Grossman wrote:Thank you for sharing this beautiful, precious experience. It's so inspiring!
On Dec 27, 2021 Coilleen wrote:I am grateful for this beautiful human kindness moment; filled me right up.
On Dec 27, 2021 Shivangi wrote:This is a beautiful postâ€¦ enjoyed the unspoken language of two kind hearts!
On Dec 26, 2021 Gorann williams-brooks wrote:Your words remind me of how blessed I have been to have experienced such an exchange of kindess with a homeless woman, with a teenage gang leader, with a parent who was a migrant worker, with my brother, and with a stranger on the Blue Ridge trails. I THANK you, Kristin, to remind me of how blessed I am and "fill my Self up" with these gifts. from an elder "Sister-in-Spirit"
On Dec 26, 2021 Ursula Banks wrote:Thank you for this beautiful story. We can give kindness always. Bless you!
On Dec 25, 2021 Patrick Watters wrote:Ah story, it is what our lives are made of. Kristin and Richard know it well, as do I.
On Dec 25, 2021 Patrick Wolfe wrote:Beautiful.
On Dec 25, 2021 Kathleen wrote:Love - Love - Love this story....thank you.
Random connections of caring and hope.
I too didn't know the World Bank had a story telling consultant - there should be a story about that some day....
On Dec 25, 2021 Joan Wolf wrote:Where there is a heart for others, kindness needs no common human language. What a beautiful example of grace in action!
On Dec 25, 2021 Martha wrote:Lovely story. And I had no idea the World Bank has a storytelling consultant.
On Dec 25, 2021 Kristin Pedemonti wrote:Thank you so much Richard for sharing my story on Christmas Day. Thank You for the countless kindnesses you share in your interviews, your generosity in spirit. I truly hope to meet you in person one day in the not too distant future.
Hugs from my heart to yours.
On Dec 25, 2021 Dale Morris Lee wrote:A touching, encouraging, and challenging reminder of the truth of Christmas.
On Dec 25, 2021 Debi wrote:A lovely story. It inspires me.
On Dec 25, 2021 Steffi Black wrote:Such beautiful kindness here and that both felt comfortable to touch
And share without any words. I love this story. A beautiful one to receive on Chrimas Day.