It only takes a moment with Kyeli Smith

Guest Post by Kyeli Smith for the Kind Kindred series.
(Originally published on 9/12/11)

It only takes a moment

A compliment, given from the heart. A brief moment of connection in the hustle of the day, where two isolated strangers look into each other’s eyes and, for just a moment, share something important.

I’m at Starbucks. The barista is stressed, a line stretches behind me all the way to the bathrooms. She doesn’t even look up at me when she asks what she can make for me. I give my order (a grandé white chocolate mocha frappuccino, half-caffeinated, soy milk, no whip cream!), she dials it in; impersonal at best. But I smile at the top of her head (which is all I’ve seen so far) and look her over – I take the time to really see her. I discover her pearl-and-amethyst necklace and say, “I love your necklace! It’s beautiful!”

Time stops. She looks up at me and really sees me for the first time, too. She smiles – a real smile – and thanks me. We finish our short exchange with more intent, a kind of slowness surrounding us, two humans interacting with each other.


I’m at Target. I somehow managed to shop on the day before school starts, and there are eleventy billion people in here – most of them under 10 and fussing in some way or another. The faces of parents are dark, stressed, unhappy. There’s a lot of arguing and checking school supplies against lists and bickering between siblings. A mother with one in the cart and three trailing her bumps into me as she tries to pass me while turning a corner (I’m meandering, having no school kids to worry about), and shoots me a frustrated glance with no apology.

I can tell by her posture that she expects me to snap at her, but instead I smile broadly. I say, “No worries!” – and mean it. I tell her that I love her hair (and I do; it’s messy but super cute). She pauses for a heartbeat, takes a breath. She thanks me, she apologizes for bumping into me. I smile again and wave at the baby in the front of the basket, and the other three stare at me – and for a moment, they’re all quiet. She has a moment to catch her breath while I make small talk with her kids about school and new pencils and backpacks. Then, she reaches out and touches my shoulder and thanks me again before wandering off.


I’m at a restaurant. It’s a popular time on a popular night, and the place is hopping crowded. Loud. Hectic. The waiter is harried and hurried, and I watch him doing his best and not living up to unrealistic expectations at several tables. My heart opens and I’m filled with a sense of wonder for him, doing this job that I can’t – and wouldn’t want to – do.

He comes to my table at last, with a look of grim expectation. I smile and chat and compliment his glasses, and he visibly relaxes. A harbor in the storm, I can see it on his face. When at last the check arrives, I leave a heftier than usual tip. And he catches me as I slip out the door, thanking me with tears in his eyes.


It only take a moment. A kind word, a compliment given from the heart. I look at the weary faces around me and know that we all feel so tired, so stressed, so overwhelmed. All we want is to feel safe. All we need is to be loved. All we long for is connection.

There is a moment for you in every interaction – from the smallest encounter at the grocery store to the involved interactions with your lover, from the most casual to the most intimate – to bring kindness. Kindness brings connection. And connection will heal the world.


I’m Kyeli. I’m an idealistic storyteller, walking the edge and forging my own path. I use photography to share my view of the world; the marvelous, the weird, the silly, the sad, the beautiful. I share myself through my lens. I find self-love and self-acceptance through my lens. I tell my stories through my lens.Kind Over Matter will be highlighting posts from the archives leading up to an exciting announcement the week of the 16th! Stay tuned, lovelies!


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