Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Imperative of Kindness

by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
     purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.


For you, in case you're waking up with a certain shade of sorrow day after day, as I've been, for longer than I care to admit. 

To our collective courage, our small acts of self love and care, and kindness that travels with us wherever we may go... eventually, this is a kindness we shall know.

1 comment:

Melanie Cobb said...

Wow. Thank you for posting this. A friend referred me to your blog and I am so grateful.

I, too, have found the depth of this delicious brand of kindness on my recent journeys. I left my career and life on the east coast to pursue travel and writing full-time. Never allowing myself to plan further than the next city (or mountain) at a time, I have relied soley on the surprising kindness of strangers - and the unnamable force that we sometimes call god.

Good to meet you. I'm Melanie.