Simple Kindness

Several years ago I received a surprise phone call from my past. It was late in the evening when the phone rang. The young man on the other end of the line seemed excited that he had found me– that indeed I was the “right” Courtney who shared seventh grade English with him at Kellogg Middle School.

To my embarrassment, I had no idea at the time who this eager young man was. As he updated me on his life, I scanned my mind furiously, searching for a clue. A flash of his face suddenly came to me, and then I remembered his voice–now deeper, of course, but his speech patterns were the same.

After catching up with one another (and my catching up with my own memory), there was a long pause. But this person from my past soon filled it with a surprising message. “I called to say thank you, ” he said, “for being nice to me in English class.” As he took a deep breath, my body remembered how he was taunted in school, how he so clearly struggled to find acceptance from others. My stomach and chest began to feel tight, constricted. He continued, “It meant a lot to me that you were so kind.”

Again, I scoured my mind for details. Did I stop a bully from hitting him? Did I stand up for him when people called him names? I don’t remember doing any of these things. The only thing I remember doing was treating him like a human being.

I am reminded of this story today because I’ve been reflecting quite a lot about the significance of the work that I do. I find myself wondering if, massage not withstanding, my listening and my holding a safe place for others makes an impact. After all, I am not “curing” someone’s ailments or “fixing” their problems. I am just being with them. How powerful, it suddenly occurs to me, that we are human beings. We have the potential to make a great impact on another’s life with our mere presence and attention.

Our kindness can come from our ability to slow down our own lives enough to listen to one another. It’s now becoming clearer to me that simple, authentic listening may well be one of the most powerful tools that we have for healing.


About Courtney Putnam

I first came to healing work through art and writing. Creating collage art and poetry in particular allowed me to deeply understand the benefit of self-expression in the healing process. But, I also began to see the benefit of bodywork (manual work in the form of massage and energywork in the form of Reiki) as keys to unlocking the emotional stresses we hold in our bodies. I became a Reiki practitioner in 2002, received an MFA in Creative Writing in 2003, received my massage license in the spring of 2006, and became a Reiki Master in 2010. In my practice I bring together these three areas -- the body, the mind, and the spirit (or energy body) -- so others may experience profound and positive change in their lives.
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2 Responses to Simple Kindness

  1. Em says:

    It was very moving to read about the young man reaching out after all those years had passed. I think that holding a safe space for someone is an amazing gift we give others and also give ourselves. Through those acts we brighten the planet and truly can change the world.

  2. deb z says:

    I can personally testify that you do indeed make a difference to your clients. When I was in the middle of my cancer journey you helped me more than any of the other health care professionals I saw, and there was no shortage of them. Some people are healers, regardless of what we call ourselves, and you are in the club! (and, thank you for that.)

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