A few years ago at a work conference, I was given a seed of happiness. It's not actually a seed. It's a crazily formed lump of clay with a smashed nose and crooked smile. It stares at me every time I sit down to write. In a real writing slump, which is often, I roll it between my palms as I ponder.
The story behind these seeds is a simple one. Kindness. Mark, a sculptor in St. Louis, decided to make something meaningful out of life's leftovers. He took his left-over pieces of clay and formed them into small smiley faces, then painted them like a rainbow. He took his first one to a friend's son, who was dying of cancer, because he didn't know what to say, or what to do, but he wanted to make him smile. A Seed of Happiness was born.
The best thing about these ugly, heartfelt, inspiring seeds is you can't buy just one. You have to buy a whole pack, 10 or more, so you can give them away. While you are always welcome to keep one, and roll it between your hands when lost, true kindness comes in sharing the crooked smile with others. Paying it forward, passing it along.
The truth is we are all homely lumps of clay, made in all shapes and crazy colors, trying to be something beautiful in this world. It's the kindness that ultimately defines us. The passing of our smiles and the act of giving ourselves away.