Years ago, I boarded a plane and decided to listen to a podcast while waiting for takeoff. I remember perusing through many options and I stumbled upon an interview with a person I’ve never heard before and the title read, “Your Life is a Poem”. The author read the poem in its entirety and while I was mesmerized by her voice, her words shot me like an arrow straight to my core that I kept pausing and rewinding to savor the wisdom I was just given. For a moment, I forgot I was on the plane traveling somewhere because I was taken to the road Naomi Nye was inviting me to travel on.


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.
- Naomi Shihab Nye


Whatever highway or byway you may be traveling on, I hope you find solace and communion with kindness.

Click here to listen to the podcast.


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