Tisiola opened our third Zoom EWP meeting with the following quote from Rumi:
“Yesterday I was clever so I wanted to change the world
Today I am wise, I am changing myself”.
The reason she chose this quotation, was because there was a time in her life when she had become overwhelmed with the injustices she saw in the world, and felt powerless to do anything about them. She felt defeated before she had even started.
These wise words, however, delivered to her a message and understanding that was so loud and clear, it enabled her to toss all her ‘Buts’ out the window, and welcome all the ‘Possibilities’ through her front door.
Finally, she understood that in order to bring about the changes she wanted externally, she first had to change internally. In effect, she had to be the change, she wanted.
And that shift in perspective is an enormous thing, because suddenly the Impossible becomes the Possible. I can change, even if it’s only a little bit at a time. I can begin by improving my relationship with myself. Through small building blocks, I can initiate a better relationship with myself, which in-turn will enable me to enjoy a better relationship with others.
And just as an apostrophe can make an enormous difference to the meaning of a word, so too can the small acts we offer ourselves and others, make a tremendous difference to the relationships we create with those around us.
As EWP members and readers of this blog know, one of the wonderful things our Organisation does, is shine a light on each of our individual gifts and talents, and this month we had the pleasure of listening to Ann’s story, because she totally embodies kindness, love, warmth, sincerity, and so much more.
Although she has lived in the Southern Highlands for over 20 years now, she is still the wholesome country girl who cried for two long weeks after she, a baby boy with another baby on the way, and a work-transferring-husband, Andrew, arrived here. She couldn’t drive to the Bowral shops because the town was too big. It took a few weeks grieving for Crookwell, the country town she had lived in all her life, rode her pony to town, and knew everyone who lived or had ever lived there, before she slowly started settling into the Highlands.
Over time, however, she has grown to love the anonymity of living in (The Big Smoke) Bowral, and doesn’t miss her school tormenters, or the stories that everyone had heard even before you opened your mouth.
She was always the shyest of her four siblings, and I don’t imagine that has changed, because Ann is still the person you will find behind the scenes happily doing all that is necessary, and always with a smile or a laugh. Serving others, and caring for their needs is who she is.
Her beautiful humble qualities she attributes to her mother, who was a tireless working member of their church, just as Ann herself is now. A few years ago, she did a three-week short-term Mission trip in the Philippines, helping out at the school and orphanage, and she loved it.
For many years Ann has worked in Pathology taking blood, and she loves to feel she is helping people at a not-so -wonderful time in their day. As she says, she can tell when some people just need a hug, or a laugh, a smile, or sometimes just reassurance, and it is wonderful to be there and of service to them.
Ann (and many like her), often down-play the importance of the role they play in the lives of others, and this is unfortunate because they are like the bricks between the mortar. Not the mortar between the bricks. Without all the little acts of kindness and love, and compassion they give so freely to others, the world would be uninhabitable. Truly. Not much point having a wall of only mortar is there? A filling with no substance!
After Ann’s story, we discussed some of the building blocks that go towards the creation of a better self who can radiate out onto others. Some of these things are practicing more self-kindness, listening and hearing others better, being open and curious of other’s points of view, smiling more freely, being mindful not to be judgemental, and remembering the art of reflection.
One of the reasons we have these discussions at EWP is because all too often we are so busy with our lives, we rarely reflect on the things that really matter to us. Which is rather silly, but we are only human after all.
This point is rather poignant because over this Covid-19 period, I have often heard, and we heard it again the other night, how much appreciated the “slow-down” has been for many people.
For whatever reason, a great many of us have obviously bought into the lie that our lives must be lived a certain way and at a certain pace. I’m not sure who started the story, but it is definitely fake news! Another lie is that Busy = Success. Not true either.
So, yes, we didn’t want our present Covid-19 situation, but it might well have been the wake-up call many of us needed.
People, families and pets are out in the streets where we live, enjoying themselves. Even getting to know their neighbours. How rash! I mean, that’s a blast from the 1950/60’s era and before.
Strangers, who have walked past houses for years, are now waving a hello to the unknown occupants. People are walking, and cycling to exercise. Growing vegetables. Perhaps even growing new dendrites and new healthier ways of thinking, and dare I say it, living.
Just as Ann followed her mother’s example, she says her children are now following her (not just into the kitchen, or their other artistic pursuits), but more importantly in treating others the way they would like to be treated.
I think small acts of kindness are a little bit of an oxymoron because acts of kindness are not small. Perhaps the act appears small at the outset, but once proffered it has a rippling effect. It is energy and as such it spreads.
Which is why the big things, which we mistakenly take for being little things, like kindness, a smile, a hug, a good listening ear, are a wonderful thing to grow, because they cost naught, and reseed the moment you give them away.
Tisiola shared this quote from Daisaku Ikeda with us:
“There are no greater treasures from the highest human qualities such as Compassion, Courage and Hope. Not even tragic accidents or disasters can destroy such treasures from the heart.”
Which is why, in closing I will say, it was very sad to hear that Ann lost her youngest brother last month, and because of Covid-19, she could not be there with her family to comfort them, as she has always done. Fortunately, however, this inability to do ‘the little acts of kindness’ she always does, brought an awareness to her of how important her ever so natural acts of self-less love and courage, comfort, and compassion are to herself and all around her.
So, once again, thank you Ann, for all the Big Things (regarded by you as Little Things), you so generously give us all. And to everyone else, happy growing, harvesting and sharing,
Toodle pip for now,