Gracious acceptance is an art – an art which most never bother to cultivate. We think that we have to learn how to give, but we forget about accepting things, which can be much harder than giving…. Accepting another person’s gift is allowing him to express his feelings for you-
Throughout our live(s) we have been led to believe that giving outweighs receiving. During the Christmas/Holiday/Festivus season, the humble “art” of giving serves as a counterbalance to society(s) increasing narcissism and isolation. Witnessing what others need to be happy requires compassion and kindness, your head to be up, eyes forward, heart open … As I walk along Regent Street, I asked myself – aloud– waiting to cross Lensfield road, a rather simple question walking to class yesterday afternoon:
Can we openly allow ourselves to be nourished by a strangers kindness? If so, how deeply do we let it in?
Weaving through the arriviste crowd onto Hills Road, I turn a corner. Life goes on.
I love going on lazy walks (especially when its 60°F in December), and as strange and awkward as it may seem (those of you who know my true shy nature) I really enjoy sharing a smile, or a “good afternoon” to those passing along in the opposite direction. In Cambridge, when I pass along a favor of stepping aside for another cyclist, the hammering of their affectionately adorned brass cycling bell, ringing in my ears … When I smile and say “hello” to a group of walkers sauntering closer to me? I’m not sure if they feel awkward, shy, or are they simply not used to people sharing kindness?
Lost in the folds of these fleeting greetings, my awkwardness and whatever, the beauty of the gift slips out of their hands. This slight on their part, eats away at me, and my mind often travels to a dark area. Where each and every question I ask myself, diminishes my ability to share compassion and kindness. I feel guilty, I continue moving on with my head down. Life goes on.
A salve for my loneliness, my increasing isolation walking to yoga class along Union Road? Is taking a moment to pause, to seek out more opportunities to share compassion and kindness when the odium comes flying in my general direction.
This is my letter to the world – That never wrote to me-
I used to get upset with strangers who asked me for money, projecting onto to them an inner struggle I felt towards myself for having such a difficult time telling them “not today friend.” Yet each time I’m asked, and with the Omaha Gives campaign coming up shortly, I wonder again, about what it truly means to be compassionate, and my recent encounter with a homeless man in the Old Market has caused me to reflect once again how I continue to fail to live up to my aspiration to consistently manifest compassion, of which I know I am capable of.
It’s not that I lack compassion for the homeless and charitable organizations, just that, my compassion for them remains only a fleeting feeling. I don’t believe giving them money represents the most compassionate action I could take. I say this because the most compassionate action I could take would be to introduce them to compassion and kindness, a practice I genuinely believe has the power to help anyone, in any circumstance become whole, but I don’t do that either because it is woefully self-serving and akin to proselytizing, which I loathe.
I’m not just writing about and discussing homelessness and charitable giving with you. I’m talking about the part of me that believes selfless service is possible and that a selfless person would be overflowing with compassion. I’m writing about the part of me that keeps asking if there really is any greater value we can produce as human beings than to help another person to become happier. Because every time I turn down a homeless person’s request for money, ignore all the insistent ads about Omaha Gives … What I think to myself isn’t that I should have given them what they wanted or desire, but rather, exploring compassion would have given them what they need.
What am I trying to explain when I mention exploring compassion? For me, compassion requires both empathy and sympathy. Empathy involves responding to another person’s emotions with emotions that are similar to your own. Sympathy entails feeling regret for another person’s suffering. Compassion, on the other hand, is caring about another person’s happiness as if it were your own. The struggle I have with my very own definition, is how easily it causes me to mistakenly infer that compassion therefore means: Giving people what they want, well, just because they are bothering me at the market or begging via an online ad or an endless stream of emails.
I routinely find myself incapacitated by the thought of disappointing anyone. And though giving people or local organizations what they want helps, I feel it does not make them happy, it does so only transiently and usually leaves them unimproved, denying them the motivation to take on growth, and in turn, producing new challenges. Also, people quite often want what isn’t good for them. If our aim is to help others become happy and content, then we must apply our own judgment to the actions we’re asked to take on their behalf.
Compassion and kindness – Seva – remains my true path in life, although one I’m able to walk upon far less often than I want. When asked for money by strangers, my typical response is: “I don’t have any cash or change with me – Sorry.” But this is often not even true. I’m certain the reason I lie ultimately comes down to cowardice, though why I’m afraid to share with them the truth is not yet entirely clear to me.
Your own Self-Realization is the greatest service you can render the world-
It’s nearly Thanksgiving once again, a time of year to pause, to reflect and connect with loved ones, new friends (or anyone else …) who share a significant role in our lives.
This morning I am writing to include everyone. Something truly magical has happened since I started blogging four years ago: I have moved closer to feeling more a part of this beautiful world through other lives that touch mine, whether they be family, friends … A random person before yoga class or a bike race here in the Midwest and many other kind, passionate folks who care for my body and spirit. It’s a fleeting conversation with a compassionate barista early one cold morning, the kindness of strangers that continually influence me, fellow bloggers whose words affect me deeply, the bountiful wonders that nature graciously offers us every day. All these “things“, that I once took for granted, fill me with the gratitude of being alive and part of something much larger than myself.
Speaking of which, Cranksgiving this past Saturday was simply awesome! One hundred plus pounds of goods were gathered up and donated to our local food bank, all on bike!
Be kind to yourself friends … And be kind to someone else each and every day.
You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving-
Please join me tomorrow – November 22nd – at 11a.m. @ Omaha Bike Co. for Cranksgiving!!! What in the world is Cranksgiving?!? Its one part bike ride, part scavenger hunt, and most importantly – part food drive. You’ll need to dust off your bike, gather up a few bags, a bike lock and about $15-$20 to buy the food, which in turn goes to the Food Bank for the Heartland. A classic win-win situation if you ask me!
Not in our fair city, Omaha, Nebraska this Saturday?!? No problem! There may be a Cranksgiving in your neck of the woods!
Come on out and remember – First cup of coffee – tea – whatever is on me!
Just in time for the Holidays – Limited Edition :CultFit: Holiday Tops!
These shirts are pretty cool and will come in handy when its time to stuff a few stockings, wiping down your yoga mat after class or cleaning up around the house. No matter how you choose to “use” them – All proceeds will be delivered by yours truly, to the Food Bank for the Heartland.
People who make no mistakes lack boldness and the spirit of adventure. They are the brakes on the wheels of progress-
One would think that giving is something nice to do, something to celebrate, something to enjoy, something to embrace and yet, very often there is a great deal of discomfort and even embarrassment that surrounds giving.
Why is this so?
Is it that we’re worried what other people will think of us, whether they will approve of our gift, sentiment or words? Is it that we are expecting a certain result and become fearful that we might not receive it? Or is it that we somehow feel unworthy or insecure in the process of giving?
Whatever the reason, the next time I “give“, I will be bold, I will give with every bit of my being, irregardless of the expectations I harbor and the fear gripping me.
Be well today and have a great weekend!