As I mentioned the other day, in the previous blog post, I read Ransom by David Malouf. I found the book fascinating and sought to read some of his other books. I just finished reading An Imaginary Life. As a writer of both poetry and contemplative thought, I was very much inspired by Malouf’s keen sense of communication through a poetic and contemplative voice. I literally wrote pages of quotes in my journal, not so much for the content, but more for the style.
An Imaginary Life is a fictitious interpretation of Publius Ovidius Naso, a first century A.D. Roman poet who was banished to a small village away from his “kind” and allowed to exist in a barbarian community who showed him kindness. Let me quote the description: But then he becomes the guardian of a still more savage creature, a feral child who has grown up among deer. What ensues is a luminous encounter between civilization and nature, as enacted by a poet who once cataloged the treacheries of love and a boy who slowly learns how to give it.
I have been pondering this quote from Malouf: Kindness, I know, is the way – and time [speaking in regards to civilizing The Child]. To reveal to him first what our kindness is, what our kind is; and then to convince him that we belong to the same
kind. It is out of this that he must discover what he is. (77)
The latter part of that quote, “it is out of this that he must discover what he is” has been really challenging me. I think how often I do something for others out of kindness – give a hug, buy something, carry a burden for, or intercede in some way. Is it really kindness? Or is it easement of my own feelings? Is it enabling? Is it allowing her to discover for herself who or what she is?
Integrative thought: I do not wanting to negate kindness. I know it is one of the Fruits of the Spirit. I know we are to be clothed in kindness. I have to at times, though, do a self-check as to my motivation regarding my kindness. My desire is that my kindness is without strings and not for my feel-goods. Nor is it to stand in the way of someone discovering who/what she is.
Kindness is not so much about how I feel as it is as Maya Angelou says: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Go, be kind today, but let it overflow out of the kindness you honor you with in your own self care…and periodically check to see if your kindness is standing in the way of someone discovering who she is.
- Monday musings on Australian literature: Five fascinating fictional fathers (whisperinggums.wordpress.com)