Kindness

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The ever glorious and wonderful Emma Thompson reads “Kindness” by Naomi Shihab Nye. Emma would like to dedicate this poem to our future selves, who we will be after this pandemic. What a glorious sentiment that is, filled to the brim with hope. What we need, what we always need, most. Here is the prescription as written in @thepoetrypharmacy @thepoetryremedy. Condition: Need for Kindness There are times in life when everything we thought we could rely on fails, and everything we have wanted for ourselves dissolves in front of us. There are times, also, when we are confronted with the same suffering in others. Faced with the sheer scale of the misery of the world, it can be agonizingly difficult to engage meaningfully- and all too tempting simply to harden our hearts against it. Yet, as Naomi Shihab Nye tells us in this inspiring poem, those moments- hard as they are- are also an opportunity, if we will only dare to open our hearts. For it is only by reckoning with true sorrow and desolation that we can come to understand exactly how necessary, how life-preserving, kindess really is, and then move towards it. First, however, we must learn true empathy. ‘Kindness’, after all, is just another word for love- and once we’ve acknowledged that the pain of others is exactly as searing as our own, what can we do but love them? What can we do but try to ease their burden? As Nye so wonderfully suggests, nothing else makes sense. This is a challenge. Even at our lowest points, we must not ignore the suffering of others: we must not allow the solipsism of personal misery to cut us off from the great cloth of human feeling. Yet it is also a consolation: if we reject that isolation, we can take comfort in knowing that whatever loss lays us bare will also bring us into the presence of kindness. By looking pain in the eye, we can find the kindness needed to reach out not only to others, but to ourselves, as well. It will tie our shoes for us; it will lead us back into the world when everything else has abandoned us. So gaze unflinchingly into the bright light of loss, and let kindness be unleashed from you like a soothing shadow. Big Thank you Big Em! 🥰🕊🙌

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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 gaze at 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.

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