Timeless Kindness (From ‘What You Can Find on the Other Side of the World’)

Thanks to lauraelatimer0 (pixabay.com)

Evan Esar, a 20th-century American humorist and author aptly put that “Character is what you have left when you’ve lost everything you can lose.”

When you have lost everything you can lose and therefore are being left without any proof of material or social power, you can’t identify yourself other than with your mere actions and with how you treat people. Would that be a frightening expropriation and dis-empowerment or would you take it as an opportunity to show who you really are?

Imagine you lost yourself in a Robinson Crusoe-like way, just that you aren’t stranded on a lonely island but rather in a different society somewhere on the other side of the world. There wouldn’t be a ‘Your majesty,’ ‘Doctor X,’ or ‘Mr. Director’ anymore and achievements, family origins, and social networks wouldn’t be known to anybody and therefore not exist. So, without any credit for your past, you could, on the other side, also enjoy freedom from prejudices, expectations, and social pressures. Wouldn’t it be great to embark on such an adventurous journey?

A challenge though would be what asset you still had at your disposition after you’ve lost anything you can lose. The answer is kindness. Think about it as a timeless and universal currency that is making us and others feeling good about us. It is always possible to cultivate our good character and spread the most valuable quality there is: timeless kindness for the benefit of society and our all well-being.

Mahatma Gandhi recommended going every year somewhere where we’ve never been before. Indeed, being uprooted even for a short period may provide for an eye-opening experience on what is left after we’ve lost everything we can lose: Timeless, universal kindness coming from a strong character that nobody and nothing can take away from our control.

In that sense: On what side of the world and with whatever we end up, if we always stay truly kind to ourselves and others, we can’t get lost at all.

  • Wonderful post Mathias. After everything was taken my journey took over six years. When I walked out of the forests I found this to be true: “A friend is a person who walks in when the rest of the world walks out”

    • Hi, Dennis. Your comment has touched me, thank you! And thanks for your great definition of a who a friend is. I think we need to give friends the opportunity to see us as we are. One reason why being in the process of walking out of the forest may also have its positive sides?

  • Kindness, compassion, acknowledgement…three components to create a world of love, for yourself, for your neighbors. Fantastic post, Mathias. XxX

    • Dear Patty, thanks for adding, especially the component of acknowledgment, in fact, seems crucial to me too. Instead of criticizing, compliments and encouragement of others’ unique ways and styles are important to build a kind ground allowing people to grow. (That’s what you do with your kind visits of my blog!) Thanks and all the best!

  • What an interesting post!

    When I was 37, I lost my wife, my business, my house, and almost all of my remaining possessions could fit into the one car I still owned. I discovered the experience was extraordinarily liberating. And yes — though I don’t quite know the connection, if any — I afterwards became a much kinder person, though I had tendencies in that direction anyway.

    I do agree with you that kindness is something which can remain — even flourish — when all else is gone.

    • Hi, Paul.Thank you for your feedback. Your personal insight is much appreciated. Yes, as I have just read and commented on your “About” page, your life too may be full of discoveries and guides in many forms that teach us what is left after all: timeless kindness (to repeat it once more:-)). All the best!