Tonight, I share two quotations that have inspired me:
“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.” Helen Keller.
“You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” John Wooden, legendary UCLA basketball coach.
To those sweet morsels, I add a few of my own words:
I had grand plans to launch a whole new series of posts on this site. To commit to a daily practice of blogging, and unveil a new approach to generosity.
These days, however, there’s something that’s feeling even more important:
Spending my time engaged in acts of generosity, rather than writing about them.
I’m sick of writi—no, that’s not right. I adore writing. I adore the experience of transferring thoughts to words; adore the expressions of beauty and strength and vulnerability that often unfold.
And. I’m sick of not following through. Expending hours and energy crafting words, rather than involved in acts that have a direct impact on those receiving them. (Which, in my humble opinion, will in turn impact the way others relate — the way societies approach the transaction of relationship — the way our species relates to our natural world. And from the macro, to the micro: practicing generosity has a direct impact on me, too, as giver; the warm reverberations fill me, fulfill me, carry me through my days.)
One could absolutely posit that words themselves can be active–or, at least, can be powerful catalysts to inspire others to activate. More on that some other time. For now, I feel a strong pull to expend my limited and extremely valuable resources out in the big wide world. With folks I encounter in my apartment building, on the streets, in the grocery store. With those I have intimate partnerships with, or relationships that feel merely transactional. With the way I run my business, the way I facilitate group gatherings, the way I teach piano lessons, the way I approach my yoga/ embodiment practice. The way I show up for myself and for others. The way I listen and the way I grow.
This is disruptive, friends. This is activism. This is being out on the front lines, refusing to give in to the status quo. Joanna Macy hits me hard, these days, when she speaks to there being three main ways that we can help revolutionize our suffering world:
- Holding actions (awakening and disrupting via activism, or other direct actions that are aimed at buying us time to slow down rate of destruction)
- Change of infrastructure (new ways of holding land, harnessing energy, growing and producing food, building, healing, medicine, teaching)
- Shift in consciousness (recognition that our planet is a living system, not a sewer or warehouse. And we belong to it, like cells in a living body. Everything is interconnected. A shift in terms of seeing reality in stuff, things, energies — to flows and relationships)
For me, grounding myself on a platform of generosity feels like it touches in on all of the above. I carry a flag of generosity when demanding that leaders wake up, and that injustice is not tolerated. Advocating a generous approach to healthcare, education, farming. Recognizing that a personal practice of generosity can ripple exponentially; that I am not just I, but rather, am a part of something much greater.
So I suppose this is more of an invitation than anything else. To notice where, in the minutia of everyday life, you may be able to find the spaciousness to explore generosity. To try it on for size. My favorite seemingly mundane but extraordinarily meaningful way of engaging with generosity is doing things for another that are utterly unnecessary. This could be as simple as stringing an extra phrase along with a normal “hello”–perhaps it’s “have a nice day!” or “I love your shoes!” This could mean taking an extra moment to write a line into an email that’s superfluous, but sweet: “Great to meet you yesterday!” becomes “Wow, what a treat it was to connect over lunch yesterday! I was so moved by the story you shared about your mom, and am sending you both good wishes.” Maybe it’s taking a friend (or yourself!) out to dinner, ordering extravagantly, joyfully footing the bill. Maybe it’s truly listening to another, without interruptions — perhaps the most generous act of all. Whatever it is, let’s act. Let’s stop thinking so much, and start doing.
I close with a final gem of provocative wisdom from Joanna Macy:
When people wake up to the grandeur of who they really are (and they are the whole world) they find synergy, grace, abilities that they never before knew they had.
I believe generosity can be a conduit of such awakeness, friends. Wishing this for you, for us, for the world.