Not merely because Henry James said

there were but four rules of life—

be kind be kind be kind be kind— but

because it’s good for the soul, and,

what’s more, for others; it may be

that kindness is our best audition

for a worthier world, and, despite

the vagueness and uncertainty of

its recompense, a bird may yet wander

into a bush before our very houses,

gratitude may not manifest itself in deeds

entirely equal to our own, still there’s

weather arriving from every direction,

the feasts of famine and feasts of plenty

may yet prove to be one, so why not

allow the little sacrificial squinches and

squigulas to prevail? Why not inundate

the particular world with minute particulars?

Dust’s certainly all our fate, so why not

make it the happiest possible dust,

a detritus of blessedness? Surely

the hedgehog, furling and unfurling

into its spiked little ball, knows something

that, with gentle touch and unthreatening

tone, can inure to our benefit, surely the wicked

witches of our childhood have died and,

from where they are buried, a great kindness

has eclipsed their misdeeds. Yes, of course,

in the end so much comes down to privilege

and its various penumbras, but too much

of our unruly animus has already been

wasted on reprisals, too much of the

unblessed air is filled with smoke from

undignified fires. Oh friends, take

whatever kindness you can find

and be profligate in its expenditure:

It will not drain your limited resources,

I assure you, it will not leave you vulnerable

and unfurled, with only your sweet little claws

to defend yourselves, and your wet little noses,

and your eyes to the ground, and your little feet.

I lead writing and mindfulness workshops throughout the Bay Area. My approach is adaptable in many settings — from helping groups honor an important life event to assisting a business team in articulating a shared vision. Contact me to learn more. For information on my San Francisco real estate practice, visit or