Character building is something I know a lot about. It seems that the years that grow on me continue to build more and more character. Do we see this as a benefit? What is the purpose of growing? Expansion is our natural state, but we don’t see it until we’ve changed our view.
Who is learning the lesson? Are we unlearning, is more like it? Remember who we are is really about letting go of who we are not. How did life become so complicated? Is it just to keep us busy? Without business would we see ourselves as unimportant? Or without business would our purpose be more clear?
All of these are such great questions. I have found for me that learning about who I am and who I am not makes for a lot of stories. Stories often just keep me busy with avoiding the “showing up” part in my life. What if I didn’t have a story? Would people like me? Would they want to be around me? If I were the person that loves themselves, I guess what others thought of me really wouldn’t matter. Therefore, not having a story would be fabulously liberating. I would get to engage in what really matters. The heart stuff. Deeply caring about humanity and connecting with others. Truly the miracle we all seek I suspect. Everyone wants to feel like they belong. We all want to know we matter and can make a difference just by being who we are in our natural state.
To shed light on what I am talking about here, a perfect example would be something I did 5 years ago. I volunteered for an AIDS hospic center. I was really drawn to cook for them once a week. I did this for over a year. There were 6 men that lived there and I got to know all of them really well. They had all very similar stories. Each one of them had been homeless at one point, all of them had some kind of drug addiction they had to over come and many if not most of them were in some stage of hepatitis treatment. One particular man, I will call him Tim (not his real name), was a remarkable man. He was a tall thin man. He never was clean shaven so he had stubs most of the time. His skin was pale gray and although nothing particularly special about him, he was very special to me. Maybe because the first time I showed up to have my interview, I had a bouquet of peonies from my garden. He was an avid gardener there and really admired the peonies. He even asked if I could bring some bulb starts for him. When I began cooking there, I saught him out and spent at least 30 min a visit with him. I learned he loved to play the piano (he had one in his room) but stopped playing it when he became a resident at this hospic center 7 years ago. He told me how passionate he was about playing the piano, and yet he stopped playing. We talked about his life, his mom and all the stories that were created up through this moment of our encounter. I really loved him. He touched me deeply and could see just how tender a soul he was. He mattered to me. But all he could see was a man with AIDS, living with a deeply wounded story that said “this is who I am”. He identified himself as the man with AIDS. He identified himself as a sick person. He identified himself as someone who no longer cared enough to think he could make a difference. He believed his story so strongly that he refused to believe he could ever leave and live on his own. He recieved a series of 80 shots in his leg for the hepatitis. He took drugs around the clock. The food wasn’t the greatest health wise or wellness provoking. So, it seemed to me he was just waiting for things to get worse. After 6 months of showing up for him, I realized I was there for him. I realized I was his “angel” to listen to him. I made a difference in his life. I was touched by his stories. I had no agenda of my own. My story was insignificant (and believe me, I have plenty of them!) and all that mattered was that I appreciated this human and his suffering. I wanted him to get well enough to move out. I wanted him to get through the treatments comfortably. I wanted him to be happy. There came a day a year or so later that he had his last treatment of shots. I stayed with him for an hour. He decided that he would play the piano for me. He was very good. I enjoyed listening and was grateful that he started. That was the last day that I ever went back. I don’t know why. My life changed. I was clear that my time there was done. I was there for Tim and his precious life to be more than just a man with AIDS waiting to become less and less.
Let’s connect with others this week by doing random acts of kindness. This is such a great starting point to get out of our story. We do things just because…..We give just because…. There doesn’t have to be a reason. There doesn’t have to be a story. Just showing up is enough.
Let this be my miracle today. Someone that loves themselves sprinkles happiness and joy around them just by being themselves. Have a great day.
Share your Random Acts of Kindness. They can be so inspirational to help others .
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