A Letter to my Son about dealing with Hostility and some Poems that Shine

Today I discovered a letter I had sent my son, who like me and most people I know, could use some advice on how to manage hostility. Escaping the Hostility Trap  by Milton Layden, M.D. provides a strategy to deal with hostility that creeps unwittingly into our lives and makes them often filled with health issues that can be serious if unheeded. My letter was lodged in the book below my own memoir, All the Difference, just published June 26, 2013 in paperback on Amazon.Com.

 

Here is a book I needed as an attorney battling in court with difficult personalities. Often I found myself tired and drained of energy, and full of hostility. This book helped me realize how that behavior hurt me and my relationship with others I came in contact with only in the legal arena or away from home. Creating my own hell at communicating with difficult personalities made me appear to strangers similar, I’m sure, at times! You are in the most stressful job in the world and I couldn’t be prouder. Hope this gives you some insight. Enjoy your wonderful family in Hawaii. Two of my favorite poems are attached! Love Dad

A Psalm of Life

Tell me not, in mournful numbers, Life is but an empty dream! For the soul is dead that slumbers, And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest! And the grave is not its goal; Dust thou art, to dust returnest, Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow, Is our destined end or way; But to act, that each to-morrow Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting, And our hearts, though stout and brave, Still, like muffled drums, are beating Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle, In the bivouac of Life, Be not like dumb, driven cattle! Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant! Let the dead Past bury its dead! Act,— act in the living Present! Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us We can make our lives sublime, And, departing, leave behind us Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another, Sailing o’er life’s solemn main, A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing, With a heart for any fate; Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait.

  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

   

Kindness

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 every where like a shadow or a friend.

By Naomi Shihab Nye, a Palestinian poet

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