A Real Musing…Kindness

May 16, 2010 § 5 Comments

Like most of us creatives, I didn’t grow up feeling particularly happy. Of course that’s understated – unhappiness was my bedfellow (I love this word – I’d forgotten about it) with happiness a disconcerting and mistrusted occasional visitor.  Perhaps the origin of my unrequited affair with poetry began there, with Kahil Gibran’s On Joy and Sorrow. His words promised me joy if I could make it though the pain, so I held on.

In response to my Whispering What post, a friend sent me a work by Naomi Shihab NyeKindness – which brought me back to my Gibran roots.  Oddly, this is from one of the few poetry books I own, given to me when I was working with people living with AIDS. Way before I was interested in poetry. I guess it’s time to pick it up.

Enjoy.

Kindness

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.

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§ 5 Responses to A Real Musing…Kindness

  • S.L. Corsua says:

    Thank you for sharing, for your own act of kindness. It’s this tandem — pieces of writing like this and a spirit of sharing (as you have shown here) — that, for me, makes time in the blogosphere worthwhile. The poem (especially re: “You must see how this could be you, / how he too was someone”), effective in tuning out negative self-speak regarding isolation.

    Cheers.

  • neil reid says:

    “You must speak to it till your voice
    catches the thread of all sorrows
    and you see the size of the cloth.”

    I wonder now if I have, every single thread, or in eagerness cast some aside yet undone? Unsettled some.

    Good of you to post this Pamela.

  • who among us cannot relate to this time and place and being? thank you for sharing this very zen passage

  • “Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
    you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. ”

    Such a fundamental truth. Beautiful poem. Thank you for sharing.

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