I recently spent two weeks on crutches after falling and badly bruising my femur. I’m in less pain now, but stairs are still difficult and I can’t bend my knee enough to sit in the back seat of a car.
I’ll admit that I spent a lot of the first few days on crutches being frustrated at my weak upper body, feeling sorry for myself as I trudged through snow, and grumbling about the inaccessibility of my campus.
But then I started paying attention to how my injury brought out compassion in people.
Dining hall workers offered to carry my plate.
My supervisors at work modified my jobs and took over where I couldn’t complete tasks.
My orthopedist told me he was impressed at my maturity.
My dad consulted me about how to handle the insurance complications.
Classmates checked in on my progress every day.
One student told me to never hesitate to ask for help.
Others held heavy doors for an extra thirty seconds when they saw me approaching. One waited for five minutes with the door in hand as I put on my coat and gloves.
But my friends were the real compassion superstars: driving me to urgent care and doctor’s appointments, carrying dishes at dinner, matching my (extremely slow) pace around campus despite the cold.
Since I’ve gotten off the crutches, people don’t hold doors. They don’t ask how I am. They let me fall behind. The compassion of strangers seemed to stop just as suddenly as it started.
It’s much easier to go about your day completely unaware of other people, but that doesn’t mean it’s better.
That’s what #1000Speak is all about: a reminder to show kindness and gratitude to those around us. We don’t always know what’s happening in their lives–injury, distress, loneliness–but we can always afford to show a bit of compassion.