top of page
  • Writer's pictureSweta Patel

How the Circle of Kindness Leads to Personal Growth

Rory speaks. Sweta writes. How one addict's story raises questions for reflection for any one of us.

My teacher colleagues and I ride the emotions of the school year and sometimes wonder if we're making any real difference. I needed Rory's reminder that it's about planting seeds of change. Over time, a kind word, a listening ear, and a genuine smile can be transforming for another. We just have to wait.

A few weeks ago, Rory received a poem. It was from Charlie, the first person Rory ever sponsored. He sent it after finishing Should've Been Dead, where a part of his story is featured:

"He was seven foot four with large, splotchy birthmarks down his arms. Others steered clear of him. They saw an annoying kid who looked different, talked too much, and couldn't stay sober. He didn't shower as much as everyone else, either. I would pick up Charlie from his halfway house in my rusty Plymouth Voyager minivan... and take five more along with us. When were all together in that van for the fifteen-minute commute to the Pioneer, there was unity, camaraderie, and a feeling of being a part of something. Priceless for people feeling along in their world."

Rory first met Charlie over 20 years ago, and from those seeds he planted in that minivan, we can see some of the impact between the lines of Charlie's poem in 2024. In his declaration to "be a better me."

The twist here is that in helping Charlie grow--and in knowing that Charlie was watching him and learning from him--it helped Rory to try and "stay better" too.

For All of Us: Who are the people in our lives who are watching and learning from what we say and do? Our relationships with others are made up of each interaction with them. As you go through your day, be conscious of those interactions. Celebrate all of the big and small kindnesses you have showed. Then, take a moment to reflect: Is there room for growth in the behaviors you're modeling?


"I Too Should've Been Dead" by Charles J. Klennert (shared with permission)

Living the aftermath of years past, 

As I ponder where time has gone,

And the reflection glares back at me.

Wandering listlessly with cold feet,

That shuffle with painful steps,

From years left in self imposed exile.

Failing the courage to reach out again,

Because the years bred complacency,

For not being what I felt they wanted.

Holding my self doubt with idle fingers,

With signs of better times now extinct,

Yet here I write again after so much loss.

Fraying those edges that are time’s fabric,

For missing out on who was the greatest,

Because I got too anxious then went astray.

Crying the tears of the forgotten addict,

Who almost died all those years ago,

With so many loves that wasn’t himself.

Looking outside the misery that is myself,

For the answers to what can be wrong,

Only to turn inward and see it is me.

Writing my truest emotions in so long,

All for a man who taught me humility,

Through kindness and understanding.

Taking stock of all that I’ve let become,

By examining what has been done,

The way you had taught me long ago.

Seeing these words as a sign to rise up,

Like a phoenix risen from my old bones,

Here is a declaration to be a better me.

Reading the past as I look to the present,

From antiquated eyes born again new,

Knowing I too should’ve been dead.

104 views0 comments


bottom of page