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.
Michael Blumenthal - 1949-
[I] retrace by moonlight the roads where I used to play in the sun. — Marcel Proust At night, when I go out to the field to listen to the birds sleep, the stars hover like old umpires over the diamond, and I think back upon the convergences of bats and balls, of cowhide and the whacked thumping of cork into its oiled pockets, and I realize again that our lives pass like the phased signals of that old coach, the moon, passing over the pitcher's mound, like the slowed stride of an aging shortstop as he lopes over the infield or the stilled echo of crowds in a wintered stadium. I see again how all the old heroes have passed on to their ranches and dealerships, that each new season ushers in its crop of the promised and promising, the highly touted and the sudden phenoms of the unexpected, as if the hailed dispensation of gifts had realigned itself into a new constellation, as if the old passages of decrepitude and promise had been altered into a new seeming. I remember how once, sliding into second during a steal, I watched the sun rest like a diadem against the head of some spectator, and thought to myself in the neat preutterance of all true feeling, how even our thieveries, well-done, are blessed with a certain luminousness, how a man rising from a pilfered sanctity might still upright himself and return, like Odysseus, to some plenitude of feast and fidelity. It is why, even then, I loved baseball: the fierce legitimacy of the neatly stolen, the calm and illicit recklessness of the coaches with their wet palms and arcane tongues of mimicry and motion. It is why, even now, I steal away from my wife's warm arms to watch the moon sail like a well-hit fly over the stadium, then hump my back high over the pitcher's mound and throw that old curve of memory toward the plate where I run for a swing at it—the moon and the stars approving my middle-aged bravado, that boy still rising from his theft to find the light.