Before you know what kindness really is
you must loose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened both.
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 if the road
you must see how this could be you,
hoe 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 any sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
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 Shahib Nye