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“What Matters” - Gathering of Kindness poem by Michelle Phillips. November 3, 2017

What Matters?

in life, in health in death, in wealth? the breadth of our experiences

is tremendous and we do well to remember

this answer will be different for everyone


What matters to you? A patient, or parent a doctor, or nurse the staff who are cleaning or those writing the notes an intern in ward on their very first shift

the gift of a new life

being held in tired arms

the passing of an old life

maybe still with tired arms


What matters to each? Oh how can you tell? Well, you start by just asking

we're so varied in all of our tales - and also in our heads - so finding what matters can't be rushed it takes time instead


The week of the Gathering of Kindness rolled round

and even the incredible Dr Crock abounding in energy couldn't be at all events

there were so many I checked the schedule there were things on at the same hour

Nobody has lent her a time-turner or machine as far as I know - which given she's my Mum is pretty far - but never fear I'm sure next year she'll have sorted that out


So let this be a summary of all that went on messages of kindness in speech and in plays

in dance and in song

you will be amazed to hear the full scope of the hopefulness that was shared


We crossed boundaries

of the state in cities in hearts

sharing stories at Monash, Clayton, VCCC,

welcoming each other at Dandenong and Sale we heard from great speakers all through this week

and I collected some words that connected with me so consider the next verse the intellectual property of Lorraine, David, Di, Nathan, Katie, Belinda, Richard, Rachel, Craig, and Michael times two

all jumbled together


You have to discover how you do kindness best the test will be the impact on those with whom you demonstrate kindness in fact that's the fruit of your kindness

it's not blackberries and apples it's fruit that actually grows our own hearts and our own worlds so that they get big Maybe kindness is a fig?


We are not big fish in a small pond we are not even small fish in a big pond Sometimes

we are small fish in a big fish

Maybe a barramundi?


We're humans not robots and if you need proof you can see it in Sidewalk Tango I'm pretty confident robots can't dance like that

- at least not yet - and that was definitely my grandmother up on the stage


The play is launched

in Wangarratta What Matters?

Kindness and listening

cheerful cleaners

the meanest of doctors has a change of heart it's a start Comedy in the shared experience of ridiculous scenarios without care's appearance

ridiculous

but true for this play is told unfolds through the eyes and the wise stories of those who actually lived these moments

Thank you to Alan Hopgood and team for making the hard things seem a little bit funnier


More than just a play is launched

two books took looks - hopefully onto your shelf! -

Lucy Mayes planned an exposé

that day by day piece by piece

eight years in the making!

became a message of hope heart and healing Beyond the Stethoscope

Taking us through

all sorts of feelings


The Gathering of Kindness Anthology

tells stories from the first event

capturing voices in articles sent in

People were hopeful

happy and sad some jaded or tired but mostly, they were glad.

Glad

that these conversations

could be had


And here's the key! It is infinitely worthwhile to be talking together

whether or not we knew each other before


"All talk and no action" "Talk is cheap" Phrases thrown about like we should keep quiet

We need this talk to feed our brains arrange our thoughts and importantly to grow our skills in changing minds particularly around a misunderstood word

like kindness We need to practice how to talk

and we get better each time


Do you think Slava and Len when they went on stage with their guitars

did so blind? untrained? without practising? Having heard them perform the idea is laughable ten thousand hours and more went into that applause


So too do we need hours of practice if we are to become experts

on kindness


A favourite topic of mine was being kind by breaking rules Those fools!

so busy admiring their top hat

that they can't see their own feet

doing the legwork

down on the street

needing, shoes. Sometimes

you need to put your feet on the table

to be noticed


Kindness in healthcare should not be hard to find yet in amongst the daily grind

we wind up tight and lose sight of the difference between a right

and just 'right'


The folly of policy

that says "Don't touch

don't help

and definitely don't hug don't friend or care or lend don't drive - the patient's survival is what matters -

only treat" which is a mean feat when you take away the kind

We've spent a week speaking on kindness

talking about the things that matter before we all scatter there's one last thing to say:

Celebrate kind acts not kind people give everyone a chance to join the fray this way it's not a kindness monologue it's a kindness conversation we don't talk to we talk with So talk with everyone

That's what matters.

Michelle Phillips - photo by Karen Baker Photographer

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