Tuesday, November 08, 2011

#5 Kindness

I'm participating in the 30 Days of Indie Travel Challenge on BootsnAll. Prompt #5: KINDNESS. One of the greatest joys of travel can be the random acts of kindness you’ll receive from total strangers. Have you ever found kindness from strangers in unexpected places?

I have met many, many kind people while traveling. I often wonder if I could ever reciprocate. Like CouchSurfing, for example. I surfed a couple of couches in Croatia a couple years ago, and I could not believe how generous and welcoming these people were. They fed me, gave me a place to sleep, and one guy even drove me a couple hours to the next town on his way to work. Or this other backpacker I met in Croatia, we visited the walled city of Dubrovnik together. And she shared her Gouda cheese with me for lunch. There are not many people I would share cheese with, and a stranger is not one of them. That sounds like a joke, but it's not really. I especially like cheese.

Anyway, I think about CouchSurfing. I can't host people now, since I live with two other roommates and two cats. But one day, I'll live alone. Would I open my home to strangers and pay forward the kindness other strangers have paid me? I'd like to think I would, but it's a lot to think about. And perhaps there are other ways to make strangers to Chicago feel more at home. I would be lying if I said I didn't know where to start looking; there is the Internet.

Writing this post is making me feel guilty about how little I've tried to seek out foreigners to my city who could really use some local advice and help. I think about all the kind things people have done for me in France, and all those times I promised myself I would be the same kind of person when I was back in America. It's so easy to get caught up in your day-to-day life and forget that all the things that come naturally to you are challenges for other people. Like paperwork, or opening a bank account, or finding an apartment, or explaining why the El goes in a circle downtown. Kindess doesn't necessarily mean giving someone a place to sleep. It can mean a lot of things.

1 comment:

antsaint said...

That's a really good point. Once we're home, it's easy to forget that sense of being alone or disoriented, trying to find your way in a new place. I bet you'll find ways to help others, and thanks for getting me to think about how I can do the same.