Random acts of kindness: inside and out


Something probably very obvious struck me today with particular force: there is an inside perspective of an event and there is an outside perspective of the same event, and the story told about each view will sound quite different.

I was walking through the park this beautiful spring morning.  The fresh green leaves were iridescent in the glorious sunlight, and the blue sky was peppered with fluffy, marshmallow clouds.  The sun had brought many of us outside: walking, jogging, cycling; just enjoying the great outdoors.  I passed two people sitting on a bench, close to my parents age I guessed and I saw the man fiddling with a camera.  A glance gave me the impression he was taking a picture of something a little in the distance.  I didn’t want to obscure his view, so slowed my pace and then moved on.  Then it struck me from a half-heard comment from the lady, that he was trying to take a picture of them both.

By the time this had registered with me, I was a few steps further ahead, thinking how my Mum and Dad had asked me to send them a picture of them together that I had taken recently, as it’s not so usual for them both to be in a photo together.  Click, click, click as my mind imported this thought into the current situation.  So I stopped, turned round, retraced my steps and asked the two seated people if they would like me to take their photo.  They were delighted with the proposal.  I double-checked with them how to work the camera – to my relief it had a button to depress: much more straight forward in my opinion, than spaces on a screen suggestive of a button, which I press either far too much and get ten’s of pics when only one was required, or not pressing hard enough and taking none! (Apologies for the techno-dinosaur that I am!)  I was about to step back to get a good angle, and thought I’d better check that the path was clear.  Good job!  A group of cyclists was almost upon us!  I paused until they had passed.  Back on task.

The couple smiled happily, click.  One more for luck, wide smiles and a bit of laughter.  Then I handed back the camera and waited for them to look at the shot in case they wanted a re-take!  And we shared stories of being in that same predicament – and I always find people most willing to help. [Just the other day I swapped cameras in Trafalgar Square one rainy day with a young lady – who unembarrassedly posed very stylishly when I had her camera!  So I did the same back – we giggled a lot; and I loved the pic she took of me! – see below!]

Me and the couple, we wished each other a happy day, and I walked on.  A little further I had got to the gate at the edge of the park and weaved through the stationary group of cyclists.  Then a chap at the front of the group started talking – oh!  To me!  I didn’t catch everything he said, but he was saying how lovely it was that I stopped to help take the picture of the couple on the bench.  He said, in quite a serious tone ‘A random act of kindness.  What you did was really good’.  I smiled, thanked him for his kind words and carried on through the gate.

As I was walking along I thought how different, in one sense, the two perspectives were of the same event.  I did no great thing; just an easy, ordinary sort of thing – sure, a nice thing, but of no great merit.  And a little chat with the lovely couple brought me such joy – they gave plenty back to me.  From the outside did it seem ‘a random act of kindness’, a serious, goodly kind of thing?  It was just a spontaneous act, being open to the world and the right action just arose (good old Tao, so wise).

And then I thought about Barbara Hepworth (Ok, I’m a bit odd!) and her lovely sculptures which have circles and holes and differently angled planes.  They have an inside and an outside, and as you move round them, they have different perspectives, and you see things differently. [I was delighted to see this one of hers in the Tate Modern, today, called Figure]

And I thought how we can frame an event in a particular way, that is not wrong in one sense, but is far from telling the whole story.  Perhaps the stories we tell are more permeable than we think.



5 thoughts on “Random acts of kindness: inside and out

  1. I like your story so much and agree that to find such an opportunity to help a couple like you did is a way to get in touch with people who you would never else talk to. Funny to think about three or four weeks ago I took a picture of a young female tourist in front of the National Gallery! Not all have a Selfie stick with them


  2. Lovely. I enjoy how it seems that your action also contributed to the chap by pearhaps reminding him of the kindness that lives within himself. I love Barbara Hepworth’s sculptures 🙂


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