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They say, “There’s no place like home.” Many folks would agree. There’s the cedar fence you built by hand around the garden patch, cupboards filled with favorite cookbooks, deep knowledge of every street corner, and your buddies beaming at you from the local dive. 

But if like Bilbo Baggins, you’re called on a journey far from the Shire, then in a sense, as an expat, you must hitch up the horse and leave it all behind or try to take a bit of ‘home’ with you. You ship those shelves and books, transfer your knowledge of street corners, (hello arrondissements)  but sometimes are faced with a sea of strange faces, many speaking another language. 

Luckily, our i-things display instant chances for millions of meet-ups. Finding some new buddies becomes a matter of clicking ‘Yes,’ and putting on your socializin’ shoes.

Getting out the door, however, has usually been the tricky part, no matter if you’re living in Paris or Pea-ville. Venturing out from the ‘shell’ is hard. It’s so warm and cozy in there in the familiar chair and the dog and cat love and accept you. 

That’s why kindness matters. A little openness and acceptance makes a big difference. You arrive to the new group. Wow, everyone looks so smart and interesting, and it seems they all know each other. It’s the age-old quandary of – how will you ever fit in?

Then someone approaches, all shiny eyes and big smile, and you can see it’s genuine. It rings true from a mile away. If anyone will, they’ll recognize your best side, accept your worst side, and find the humor in between.

That’s what they do. If you have never understood the enormous power of an open-mind and a gracious spirit, venture outside your ‘town limits’ and you will. Offering the ancient virtue of true hospitality – the golden rule in the Koran, the Hebrew and Christian traditions – is dear readers, how you make the world a better place. 

That often means, opening the home, the organization, the metaphorical neighborhood to those the world might deem of the fringe, the fraught, the weak, the worried, or simply those plain old odd folks that most don’t have the time for. True generosity. The kind that does not aim for reciprocity. 

In the age of big connections, and big ideas, it’s good to remember that people function best secure in knowing they are a part of something. If you’ve known the gift of kindness, then you know this to be true. When you smile and take the time to know, accept, and acknowledge someone, you alter the universe toward kindness. Being genuinely nice is simply the Harvard star of virtuous achievements.  

** This post is inspired by a friend who is leaving soon, back to her home, then onto her new home with the United Nations in Kenya.