Have we ever paid so much attention to our connection to each other? If ever we were aware of exactly how many metres separate you from me, and how quickly we can spread both kindness or viruses between people, it’s now.
One year ago, Naomi Shihab Nye said of a poem, “Sometimes a poem just strikes a precise moment.” If that was true then, it’s even more so now.
Small Kindnesses by Danusha Laméris came upon my radar twice in the past week, once in Pome (a daily poetry newsletter you should subscribe to here). I’d like to share it with you as well.
I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk– Danusha Laméris
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead—you first,” “I like your hat.”
These micro-exchanges are more precious today than ever. Offer them generously.