The Story You Don’t Know

So I had a really interesting experience the other day that I wanted to share. This experience inspired me to make a point of reaching out to people, and connecting with others, even people that I don’t necessarily know that well, so that I can share in their joy or be a source of comfort in their lives.There is no denying that kindness and human connection are powerful uplifters, and these two things might just be the most important things that we can do for our world, and for each other…to connect and to be kind. Everyone has a story that we know nothing about, a joyful one or a struggle, and in many cases these stories are dying to be shared, and the people dying to be heard. I made an unlikely connection just a few days ago that changed that particular day for the better, and will continue to put a smile on my face in the days that lie ahead.

 

Last Wednesday morning I woke up really, really early, like I do every morning, to head out for a run. It was a struggle for sure as my energy was low that day and I felt more tired than usual. I had a lot on my mind, and the thought of heading out into the pouring down rain and wind and cold almost made me hit the snooze button. I managed however to crawl out of bed and hit the streets, hoping that the music from my headphones might supply me with some much needed inspiration. When I was about five minutes into it, and freezing and soaked to the bone, I saw something in the distance that snapped me wide awake. It was a person, an elderly woman as it turned out, jumping around crazily the middle of the road, and at first it looked like she may be in trouble or possibly mentally ill, because who is out at 5:00 am in the morning, in the pouring rain, jumping around in the middle of the street?

 

As I got closer I slowed down, and recognized her as the same woman that I see every single morning of my life…the older lady who is always waiting at the bus stop at the same time that I run by. I’ve seen her practically every single day for the past year and a half, but of course I knew nothing about her. As I got to about fifty feet away I turned off my music and took out my headphones, because it was then that it finally hit me…she was dancing and singing at the top of her lungs! I had slowed down to a walk at that point, and as she was twirling around, she saw and approached me, saying something in French that I didn’t understand. I told her that my French really wasn’t that strong, so she immediately broke in English and told me that she just found out the night before that her son, who she hasn’t seen in almost ten years is finally coming home for Christmas, and she can’t stop dancing…so, I did what any of you would do…I grabbed her by the hands, and the two of us began dancing around in the middle of the road together…in the cold and the dark and in the pouring down rain in the suburban streets of Paris, and you know what, it changed my life for the better.

 

As I continued on my run that morning, I reflected on not only how surreal that experience was, but how in life it’s so easy to co-exist with other people each and every day of our lives but to not know anything about them…at all. I got thinking about all the other people that I see every single day, like the cleaners and the guards at our school for example, who I know nothing about. People who have stories and struggles, like we all do, and who might need a human connection or an act of kindness that can easily come from me. We all have people like these in our lives, and there are dozens of missed opportunities each and every day to make a connection that might just change someone’s day for the better. As children we are told not to talk to strangers, but I’m not sure that same rule should apply to adults. I’m thinking that we should all go out of our way to engage with a stranger or two, and to make a new connection each and every day…it won’t just put a smile on their face, it will put one on yours as well…I guarantee it.

 

Gettin back to my new friend (whose name incidentally is Celine, as I came to find out the next morning when I stopped to talk to her at the bus top), we now share this special moment, which brings a smile to both of our faces everyday when I run by and wave. She stopped me to say thank you by the way, the day after the dancing incident, and shared that what I gave her, by stopping and dancing with her, was the most beautiful gift that she has received in a long, long time. She had nobody to share her joy with as she is very much alone, and the fact that a perfect stranger, relatively speaking, had stopped to share in her joy was an act of kindness that has restored her faith in the world. Well, seeing her dancing like that in the rain did the same for me so I guess we owe each other. It’s funny to me that pure inspiration can come from the most unlikely and unusual places, so you better be ready to receive it…and of course, you need to remember to give yourself plenty of opportunities to have your day changed for the better simply by making a human connection, or by simply being kind. Have a wonderful week everyone, only two left until the holiday, and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.

 

Quote of the Week…

Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.

– Mark Twain

 

Inspiring Videos –

Hit and Run

Believe in Someone

West Jet Christmas Miracle

Surprising Strangers

Random Acts of Kindness Triathlon

 

Related TED TalkKio Stark (How to Talk to Strangers)

Inspiring Poem –  Katherine Perry (Everyone Has a Story to Tell)

 

Related Articles –

The Importance of Connections

Being Kind Benefits You

Kindness Feels Good

Talk to Strangers

The Joy of Sharing Joy

 

About Daniel Kerr

Dan Kerr is now Lower School Director at the American School of Paris. He previously served as Intermediate Division Principal at Academia Cotopaxi American International School in Quito, Ecuador, and prior to that was the Middle School Principal at SCIS in Shanghai, China. Dan has also worked at JIS in Jakarta, Indonesia and he began his International career in Abu Dhabi. Dan is thrilled to be joining the ASP family and will be accompanied by his wife, Jocelyn, who will be working as a counselor, and his two children, Max and Gabby. 
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2 Responses to The Story You Don’t Know

  1. Hey Dan!

    The world works in beautiful ways…

    I do a lot of reading, but quite honestly, this was my first time to come to this website and read through some blog articles. And who is the first contributor I see, the man himself Mr. Dan Kerr. It’s really good to see you still staying active on your writing, as I know you were doing this back with SCIS just before my arrival. Your article here struck a chord with me, stirring up some emotions, especially right at the part of the lady finding out her son was coming home for Christmas.

    Your values of connection and kindness speak volumes of who you are. By the looks of things you’re still based in Paris. How are you enjoying life, the school, and everything in between?

    Hope you’re well

    Richard Forbes

  2. Kathie Hyde says:

    Thanks very much Dan for sharing your wonderful experience

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