Monday, April 25, 2016

Pay Attention To Reminders So You Don't Forget Who You Are

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. Dalai Lama

Today we live in a world where a few are wealthy, many are homeless, and most of us are somewhere in between busy tending to our own needs, material and otherwise. And in that kind of a system we sometimes forget who we really are...deep down at heart level. We're born with goodness in us, but we seem to have lost a way of life that included a natural awareness of purposeful living with love and compassion for one another. We're all connected, but we forget each other. And in forgetting each other, we forget to be who we are.

Unless we live in a vacuum, everyday we're bombarded with negative energy. We see it, hear it, feel it in the street, at work, while shopping, in the media, everywhere. It's easy to get swept up in the flow and lose ourselves without realizing it's happening. And we need reminders everyday to bring us back in touch with our own goodness and the depth to which we can and should express it in our life.

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." Leo Buscaglia

My reminder: Today I experienced one of those reminders that rattled my head and my heart. And I still feel the rattling. It was a hot day, and as I drove out of the pharmacy parking lot, I saw a man sitting on the curb under a tree with a sign asking for help. I stopped, gave him a dollar and quickly drove toward the grocery store. Then I recalled exactly how he looked, and tears poured. He was very skinny with a long, shaggy gray beard, old dirty torn clothes, holes in his shoes, and years of pain on his face. One dollar? My God. I have a house and food to eat. How much could he get with one dollar? I went back to find him. But now he was gone, and the whole episode kept nagging at me as I drove off again.

When I left the grocery store, I suddenly realized what I had forgotten in the first place. Material help is one thing, but even more important is our need to know someone really cares...we're not alone. More tears poured down my face. I had to try one more time to find let him know I cared. And I headed back again to the pharmacy.

He was still there. I parked and walked over to him. I hadn't noticed his thin dirty hair and hands or the old worn tote bag sitting next to him. I handed him five more dollars, and his yellowed broken teeth didn't diminish the grin that now replaced the sadness in his face. I told him to stay there, and I ran into the pharmacy and got him a bottle of cold water and a candy bar. We smiled together, and I felt our connection. I said, "Now you can eat your candy, drink your cold water, and keep that smile going for a while." He nodded. "Thank you, lady. God bless you, lady." And I thanked him. I was profoundly reminded and greatly blessed.

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Aesop

In the past, people have told me not to give money to beggars, because they all just spend it on alcohol or drugs. Well, for ten years I worked in a jail counseling the homeless...mostly mentally ill, some not. I got to know most of them well, and very few used alcohol or drugs. But we didn't judge them. We simply cared for them.

So be there, open to opportunities for honest expression. Our world needs to heal. Be an instrument for that healing. That's why you're here. Accept reminders as they come, and remember who you are. And be that wonderful you.

I wish you many happy times being you.


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