Some of What I Have Learned This Year
I am writing from the walk in clinic, where I am accompanying someone I love. We are not considered “urgent” and so we might be here for a while.
Looking around, I see so many variations on the theme of what can go sideways with our bodies. I feel some angst in the air, too. Some helplessness.
It’s the day after Christmas, two days away from my birthday and almost at the revolving door that will take us into a new year.
It has been such a big one for me and for many others. A year of lessons, of stretching, of getting better acquainted with our hearts and with ourselves
I feel the need to list the things I have learned in the past twelve months. There is something about letting things move from our minds towards the paper - or the keyboard - that anchors them, makes them somehow more substantial and better partners for a conversation.
I will start and see what shows up.
Life is rich and being its student is not much of an option. I do feel that showing up for class with our pencil sharpened and our minds and hearts ready to learn just makes it more exciting.
Today, I invite you to write your own list. Just like I did I suggest you allow it to be in no particular order of importance or chronology.
And I wish you a loving and rich New Year - away from the walk in clinic if you can.
Generosity of Spirit.
A few days ago, a friend of mine brought up a concept during a phone conversation. Funny how sometimes we hear something in passing and wow… it just hits the perfect spot.
He said something about “Generosity of Spirit,” and when I heard them, the three little words all strung together lit up like a warm Christmas light inside my heart. Then, they made their way to my mind and they have been swirling around there ever since, asking for attention, for exploration, for deepening.
Generosity of Spirit.
I know about Kindness or at least I know enough about it to try and spread it around whenever I get a chance. Buy a cup of hot cocoa for someone who is cold outside the grocery store. Listen to the same story for the 5th time and try to stay present. Choose your words carefully. Help someone cross the street.
But this was not what he was talking about.
He was talking about something different, something that almost just … is. A way of being inside of us that does not necessarily need an audience nor a recipient.
I did a little reading on the topic, looked around to see if anyone else was as fascinated as I suddenly was about it.
I talked with a friend about it over breakfast.
I meditated on it.
And I wondered - and still do - why it has grabbed on to me in such a non negotiable way.
Late at night, I read this: “People who are Generous Of Spirit are genuinely happy for others’ good fortune irrespective of their own circumstances.” This resonates. No small order, I see it being akin to the Bhuddist concept of Mudita, sometimes described as “sympathetic joy.” I may be poor and I may be sad but your wealth and happiness bring me great pleasure. Like I said, a big order but one which can make all the difference to our inner terrain. The opposite of envy, the ultimate joy killer.
I get this. And still. I sense that there’s more. There’s something big lurking.
As I continue to dance my way through this delicious exploration, I am finding opportunities throughout the days to ask myself what GOS would look like, in a given instance.
I visualize, too. I see it. GOS is large, not small. It’s open, not closed. It’s strong, not scared. It’s soft, not brittle.
It’s a Gift.
Then I wonder if one is born with Generosity of Spirit or if it can be developed. My breakfast friend reminds me about The Grinch and how its heart BAM! grew three sizes in an instant. I like that, but I am not 100% sure.
What I am sure of is that something has been turned on inside of me and that it is not likely to get turned back off soon.
This is my exploration, right now. My not at all complete foray into what I sense was handed to me at the perfect time.
I would love to hear your thoughts about it.
Out For a Bite
I had been wanting to check out this soon-to-be-opened Asian restaurant for a while. It looked small and simple and when I finally saw the OPEN neon sign flashing, I made my way there immediately.
As we walked in and eventually sat down un-escorted, I had the thought that it may have been wiser to wait a week for the new owners to turn on the neon sign. There were unfinished patches on the walls as well as a notable absence of staff in the dining room. After about 15 minutes, a couple who had came in when we did decided to walk out.
We waited another ten minutes and then I ducked my head inside a curtain to let someone know we were there. In the small kitchen, a man and a woman were rushing around and as the woman followed me back to my seat, she explained that they did not yet have sushi, that this would happen next week, and that the waitress had not shown up on her first day at work.
Her accent was hard for me to understand but I recognized and remembered that mix of excitement about opening day being finally here, about the dream - and also dread at not being up to the task (I had never noticed that Dream and Dread are just one letter apart…)
After a good while, our food arrived and it was good. Not my favorite style of cooking - I guess my cells tend to recognize and sway more happily to Mediterranean flavors than Oriental ones - but it definitely was good.
Then, this happened:
The gentleman whom I had seen earlier in the kitchen, came to our table and noticed that I had not yet finished my bowl nor had I added the sauce that came with the dish. Also, I had apparently not mixed the ingredients properly. In a thick accent, he asked me if he could do … something. I nodded, ready for adventure. He then proceeded to grab my chopsticks, add a bunch of sauce on top of what was left in my bowl and toss everything in a well rehearsed manner. He then jutted his chin at me in an invitation to try. It tasted very good. I told him so and he then explained to me what he had done and let me know that next time I ordered - there he picked up my chopsticks again to lift a bit of rice from the bottom of my dish - I could ask for the rice to be crunchier. That it was even more delicious that way, he said. I took note. That was fun. In three minutes, I had gotten a new dish, learned how to order next time and felt as though I had been treated to the private knowings of another culture, one of my favorite experiences ever. I thanked him deeply.
Before we left, the woman came to visit us also, as she brought the check. It was hard for me to understand her words but as she took my hand and held it in hers, I could understand … her Essence. I could understand that she was stressed and wanted to make sure we had liked our experience and would come back. I assured her we would. She held my hand all the way to the door and waived us goodbye warmly.
As we stepped into the cold air, I remembered this Maya Angelou quote: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
In this little not quite finished restaurant, I had felt welcome and connected and for this, I was grateful.