“In the teaching-learning situation, each one learns that giving and receiving are the same.” -A Course in Miracles
Today I was reminded of the quality of gratitude and how it manifests in Self and others. The last few weeks, not really thinking about how or why I go through machinations of getting ready for the day, I began by just giving a nod and “no teeth-showing” smiles to everyone I saw; whether, on the train, at a traffic light, library, grocery store, a grumpy civic worker at code enforcement, and so on. Interestingly, more people responded with either a smile, greeting or quirky comment about the weather or something. They softened and leaned in.
One, two, three days easily became weeks and my smiles evolved into more random acts of kindness–letting people merge into my lane without flipping out because they were trying to dominate (this is a big one) the road, taking lunch to a friend–just because, engaging younger people in conversation while in line at a store, just hearing what they wanted to talk about. It was so much fun and gratifying. Reconnecting with humanity is easier for some and more challenging for others. Most likely because we’ve grown more guarded in our interactions. We’ve become more circumspect about perception and reception from those we don’t know. Will we be disrespected? Will we be shouted at? What is this an unfamiliar language, odor, dress? I don’t understand them, it, or the situation. The world has become less tolerant of the unfamiliar. Is this survival mode or ignorance because we don’t fully understand? Is it because it is easier to guard, shut down and form myopic views about things we don’t want to explore? Being thoughtful, exercising grace takes more patience and work. We’re busy and who cares? I’ve got my stuff and my needs met, why bother with others’ deficits? I don’t think this is what we’ve become or even made of. Let’s take a breath, generate an internal “okay, it’s not the end of the world” mentality, then see what happens. You might be pleasantly surprised or not. Either way, you made an attempt to do better, and that’s HUGE! That’s gratitude.
Wisdom in action is curious and childlike. Giving and receiving are the same. To be treated humanely, you have to act humanely. Calm down, be kind and embrace gratitude.