Time away softens the rough edges that sneak into the corners of my mind. A change in scenery stimulates new ways of seeing. The freedom from responsibilities brings openness and receptivity to the simple pleasures that life provides.
Slowing down to experience the moment yields many satisfying interactions that validates that life is working beautifully.
Easy exchanges with strangers, good service from restaurants, friendly flight attendants, the hint of fall in the air; it is the little things that join together in a seamless pattern that says that life has decided to be a gracious host for this moment, hour, day or as long as we can sustain a genuinely open and receptive attitude.
Of course, there are those times that underscore the notion that life is out to get us and everywhere we turn life seems hell bent on delivering experiences that put our teeth on edge and shatter our coping skills.
Since my days away felt like it does when the sun shines softly so the light is the perfect hue, it seems like a great topic to delve into today.
Some say, “You create everything in your universe. The magic emanates from you.” Others say, “This was given to you by the grace of God. You were fortunate enough to be blessed.” Or, “It is the luck of the draw. Don’t get too cocky because you might just as well trip and fall tomorrow. Spit three times and hope that that things that go bump in the night don’t come after you for bragging about your good fortune.”
Whatever belief you subscribe to or whether you embrace all of those mentioned isn’t the point.
Instead, I want to highlight the idea that just as the little things that flow smoothly can create the context for increased joy, perhaps we are missing many opportunities to contribute to our happiness because we withhold the small kindnesses that can smooth the road for others and ourselves.
Imagine approaching each day with the intent to treat ourselves to healthy doses of self-liking while simultaneously extending general openness and acceptance to everyone we meet.
When we are generous with our energy it sets the stage for the possibility of a high level exchange. We can use the analogy of a handshake. If we extend our hand to another with a clear intent to connect, we’ve initiated the possibility of a positive interaction. If the other person is distracted, has a wimpy, dead-fish handshake, or rejects our extended hand, a strong negative impression is set and the outcome is a misfire that fosters disconnection and lowers the likelihood of an enjoyable interaction.
On returning from LAX, the Super Shuttle driver who was both friendly and attentive, said: “I hope you don’t live high up in the hills of Laguna!” After reassuring him, he continued. “I had a customer who lived at the very top of a winding road. It was past midnight. The fog was thick. The climb was treacherous. When we arrived at his home, there was a large gated driveway. I asked if he would open the gate so that I could turn the van around. He refused. I was stuck, so I decided to sleep in the van until daylight. At 5 a.m. his wife woke me and demanded that I move. I told her I would leave as soon as it was light. They called the police. They finally gave permission for me to turn around and I was on my way. “
Why did the man refuse? The excuse he gave the police was that he didn’t want to take the chance that the van would drop oil on his driveway. Whatever his reason, his act of insensitivity created a lasting negative impression.
Discernment is necessary. The caution is to make sure that we aren’t under the spell of a habitual fear that hopelessly disables our gracious humanity.