My friend Brian

I was in the hospital in May 2016, and I met a man named Brian. I had just come out of an extraordinarily toxic relationship, and he was reeling from the death of his mother and infighting with the rest of his family. We had both been dealt some really bad blows. These were really seriously difficult obstacles. I still had an apartment of my own, but he was homeless at the time.

He’s a beautifully talented artist, and a really good person. I simply intuited that about him as soon as I met him. I could empathize while he was going through a rough patch, so I helped him quite a lot. It was an obvious choice for me, because I wanted him to have a chance to come back to his real life, his true life: Being a creative, productive person.

I gave him money, supplies and gear. For the first couple of months I was concerned that it was going to be — I won’t say wasted time, effort, money and energy — but he had some really challenging months, and I was afraid my assistance wouldn’t help. He experienced more pitfalls in the seasons after leaving the hospital, and then for several months he just disappeared altogether.

But then he randomly texted me not too long ago to tell me that I’m the angel that saved his life. He has a bunch of money in savings. He has his own place. He’s painting again and selling his art. That makes me feel so good.

When you invest yourself in something (whether it’s a person, project or place), it’s so rewarding when that commitment comes back and reminds you why kindness should be everybody’s default setting. It is gratifying and inspiring.

A constant light

A common theme in Brian’s work is the coastline. The water changes, perhaps depending on his mood or state of mind? The weather, the time of day, all that adjusts. However, one of the constants is a lighthouse in the background. It’s always lit. I don’t know how else to see that but as a constant ray of hope in the background that guides him back from the rocks.

I’m so honored that I got to help with that. Really humbled. So I suppose this entry is to encourage you to remember that the good works you do really do matter. They make a difference. So keep being kind, even when you don’t want to be, even when the day is terrible. Try to find a way to remember to be generous. You’ll get it back. You don’t know when, but you’ll get it back.

I felt it was important to share this, because my column tends to focus so much lately on exercise and nutrition. But in the past, I was better at discussing other modalities of wellness. File this one under Social Wellness. You might even connect it to Spiritual Wellness, if you think in those terms. However you experience this story, understand that caring for others is inextricably connected to caring for ourselves.

info: Jack Kirven completed the MFA in Dance at UCLA, and earned certification as a personal trainer through NASM. His wellness philosophy is founded upon integrated lifestyles as opposed to isolated workouts. Visit him at and