Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What is your definition of Kindness?

This poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, is one of my all-time favorites which I like to revisit frequently.  It should be memorized and recited often, IMHO.   I have also been pondering what kindness means to me.  I want to add that kindness is often the little things, like acknowledging emails and texts with small signs, like a happy face, things that let people know you see them, or you hear them, and they matter in your life.  Even a "Like" on a Facebook page, or a simple smile at a stranger can be a moment of kindness.   "Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things."  (Robert Brault)  More and more, as I age, kindness seems like the "little things".  This poem also has a generous amount of compassion, which comes through age and experience.  


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 everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

 "Kindness" by Naomi Shihab Nye,
 from The Words Under the Words: Selected Poems.
 © Eighth Mountain Press, 1995. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


A new year is always a chance to "Do Over".  We are standing on a threshold of hope.   We don't get that opportunity very often.  We have to be responsible for what we have created based on our choices, and sometimes it's not very pretty. 

Every January 1st we get to review, release and recreate aspects of our selves on our journey of discovery and awakening.  In the musical, Scrooge, there is a song that sums up this determination to be a more intentional human than we have been in the past.   While it is probably not the best poetry, it's meaning is focused and pertinent.   Enjoy your journey of creating the best self you desire as you begin again with renewed hope.

      I'll Begin Again

I'll begin again 
I will build my life 
I will live to know 
I fulfilled my life 
I'll begin today 
Throw away the past 
And the future I build 
Will be something that will last 
I will take the time 
That I have left to live 
And I'll give it all 
That I have left to give 
I will live my days 
For my fellow men 
And I'll live in praise 
Of that moment when 
I was able to begin again 

I'll begin again 
I will change my fate 
I will show the world 
That it is not too late 
I will never stop 
While I still have time 
'Till I stand at the top 
Of the mountain I must climb 
I will start anew 
I will make amends 
And I will make quite certain 
That the story ends 
On a note of hope 
On a strong amen 
And I'll thank the world 
And remember when 
I was able to begin again 
I'll begin again!