A former colleague recently shared a few lines from her favourite poem. It’s by a 19-century Australian (and sometime champion horse jockey) by the name of Adam Lindsay Gordon. The lines are from long ballad he wrote called “Ye Warie Wayfarer,” and they go like this:
Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone,
Kindness in another’s trouble,
Courage in your own.
I asked my friend why she finds these lines meaningful. “The poem just immediately resonated with me, and the older I get, the more it does,” she says. “It’s just beautiful in its simplicity, and I think it is a lesson we would all do well to learn.” She told me she first heard these lines from the lips of Diana, Princess of Wales, who was certainly no slouch when it came to acts of charity.
In fact, it reminds me of a speech Diana made in 1993 on the value of community supports. According to reports, she concluded her presentation with these rousing words: “Perhaps we’re too embarrassed to change, too frightened of the consequences of showing that we care. But why not risk it anyway?” She added, “Begin today! Carry out a random act of seemingly senseless kindness – with no expectation of reward or punishment. Safe in the knowledge that one day, someone, somewhere, might do the same for you.”
Lovely, lovely. Since Diana of Wales and Adam of Down Under lived in separate centuries – and the time machine, to the best of my knowledge, wasn’t yet invented – I can say with some degree of confidence that Diana and Adam never met. But they had something tragic in common: Both died before reaching their 40s. They also shared something magical. Both left lasting legacies by inspiring kindness and fortitude in those of us who continue to read their words.
Postscript: This week I was invited to be a guest blogger on fellow writer Lisa Tabachnick Hotta’s Kids and Mental Health blog. Of course, I wrote about good deeds. Think there’s a connection? Naturally! Check it out here.