Sometimes you receive a message or a phone call or a whisper from the Universe when you need it the most. A friend gave me the following poem that impacted me enough to share it with you. Please read it.
Kindness By Naomi Shihab Nye
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.
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.
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.
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.
I often ponder the notion of kindness because of its effect on my ability to embrace compassion. It is our ability to empathize with others that builds our propensity to believe in kindess. I know this. But sometimes I slip and fall and forget another person’s backstory and jump to the wrong conclusion. That is precisely where kindness should enter. I should dismiss what I perceive as a careless and selfish action to questioning whether I know the complete, full story of what motivates a person to behave in a certain way. The truth is that this approach can be dangerous because it might reveal something that you may not like about yourself.
Loss does indeed shape us. For some, it brings bitterness. For others, compassion.
What a beautiful poem and sentiment of yours. I often think, “there but by the grace of God, go I. I know with a few mishaps, a job loss, a freak accident, etc., we could all be a few steps from needing. And yes, because of “losing things” we learn to be kind because we’ve been, at least I know I’ve been, at the mercy of others’ kindness before in my life, and you never forget it.
Loss does change us and shape us. Kindness is a way of life and if we adopt it as our way of life we become all that we can be. xo
I think we’re all guilty of this to a degree. It is human nature. When we practice kindness day after day it soon becomes a way of life. We may still make harsh judgments at time but still compassion will be in our hearts and show in our actions. This is a thought provoking post, Rudri, and a touching poem. Thank you for sharing this poem as I was not familiar with it.
Knowing what I had to lose, what I did lose and what I don’t want to lose changed me in a way that kept this life of mine going strong. So yes, this speaks deeply and profoundly to me. Thank you for sharing, Rudri.
I think you’re really onto something with your link between kindness and compassion. I too find myself leaping to conclusions – and for some reason, I’m most likely to assume the worst of others when I’m driving. It always makes me calmer to stop and try to imagine myself as the other driver: what could be on his mind? What could be weighing her down today? It’s a struggle for me, but it helps when I take the time to do so.
Thanks for that reminder today.
That is a perfect poem.