Giving Back

Ordinary moments are extraordinary opportunities for random acts of kindness.

The art of giving back is a natural reflex for me.  My first photographic memory of the act took place at Logan International Airport in Boston back in the seventies.  My father was involved in many organizations at the time and, as a small business owner himself, was quite involved in various civic engagements.  The fit was inevitably soothing to him and truly a calling, for he was loved and well received by an abundant populace.  And so, on that spring day in Boston, my father drove me into the airport with hundreds of Hershey bars.  We were welcoming Vietnamese immigrants, and I had the privilege of handing each child a chocolate bar.  I remember the honor, feeling that this was a job I could take on that made me feel great, welcoming others to a new space.  At the time, my eight-year young self was so happy to be a part of my father’s magnificence in taking on such a task.  Little did I know the unfolding that would take place as decades rolled on.

This value of giving back had always been instilled in me at home.  It gave me a sense of security, a sense of connection and has always driven me.  Through the years,  I witnessed the commitment my father gave to his community including newcomers landing on the  soil that he came to love as home. I can only imagine the greatness he would feel if he had been on his island of origin.

My days of sharing goodness with others continued through my adolescent years by helping at school events, and later, spending time in a local food pantry and youth organizations while learning more about family shelters in my hometown.  In college when bombarded with academics, working part-time, and volunteering, I came to realize that everyone did not feel the way I did about giving back a piece of yourself due to the gifts that you might experience by sharing your personal love and kindness.  In fact, it felt like I had taken on one too many events and was not really enlisting others to partake.  This is not the move mi Papa would have made.  It was then that I learned the art of asking for help.

Giving back can take on other forms.  For some, it is just as easy to share financially, which, at times, may be far less complicated than arranging for time devoted to a cause.  Others may give a service they offer in goodwill, or simply to promote their business while relationship building.  The initial conflict of carving out time to serve others may feel cumbersome at first.  However, there is always the opportunity of changing your mind and seeking out an organization or cause that might be of true interest to you.  Sometimes this cause may be an act of kindness towards a neighbor or someone you simply experience in your day, whether on a street corner or on the train.  These ordinary moments are the extraordinary opportunities for random acts of kindness.

Tapping within oneself for the beauty of receiving, and acknowledging that what you give, you will get back, is often accepting the fact that you will not always necessarily receive from the person or situation that you gave to, and so sometimes just knowing that in advance will prevent a feeling of resentment.  Hopefully when you give of yourself, whatever the gift, you are working from a place of genuine love and interest and not a sense of strict obligation or requirement.  At times that we give, we just need to be tuned into the idea that at some point in time, we will receive it back.

When practicing yoga, we notice immediate and perpetual benefits.  However, after a physical practice of an hour or two, there will be the initial energized or calmed self, depending on each individual person; and then you notice that life begins to make subtle reappearances.  You will then know that, in order to experience what you receive, you will need to reacquaint yourself with your practice.  Just like “when you give, you get” and “what you put into the world you get back”, there are sometimes the unexplainable occurrences that we endure.  But our yoga practice can give us something, even when we are out of steam.  Our yoga practice always gives and expects nothing in return. Experiencing life should emulate this, whether it be giving or receiving.  Intriguingly enough, there are countless instances when we are not even aware of what we give to others or what others give to us.

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