Hello. This is Dr. Kim. Like most of you, I have spent the last three weeks in self-isolation. It has given me a lot of time to reflect on who I am, who I want to be when I grow up, what is important to me, and also how I can better serve the many communities to which I belong. Maybe many of you are having some of the same thoughts. One answer to which I keep returning is Kindness.
I think in these uncertain times of which we have all been thrust into without much warning, the one thing we can do for ourselves and one another is exhibit kindness. Kindness is something we talk a lot about at school, but it is perhaps one of the most difficult—yet most easy—things to practice. What I mean by that is we are kind when we find ourselves in precarious situations, such as the pandemic we are in right now. Yet, we find it terribly difficult to be kind when we are carefree.
I recall in college I met the poet Yusef Komunyakaa. He was giving a lecture at my university. He had just published his collection Talking Dirty to the Gods. I so badly wanted to purchase a copy of the collection before going to hear him speak, so he might sign the copy, but I could not afford it. So, I printed off a poem of his that I found online. I walked up to him, and introduced myself and told him that I wanted to be a poet, too, after college and asked him to sign his poem, printed on 8 ½ x 11 copy paper. He did. That was a rare type of kindness that people, particularly famous people, do not often exhibit without a cost. I walked away from my experience with a great poet thinking if I, myself, ever become a great poet, I will be kind to students. I am not a great poet as of yet. Perhaps I am my kindest in the midst of precarity. I should change that, if it is true. Perhaps you are, too.
Let’s all renew our promise to practice kindness now—and again when we return to our regularly scheduled lives. To inaugurate poetry month at Eagle Hill, I would like to read you his poem titled “Kindness.”