"Generosity is not giving me that which I need more than you do, but it is giving me that which you need more than I do."
The past few days have brought a host of generous, thoughtful and compassionate gifts into my world. It reminds me of the many wonderful people that are in each of our lives, giving in so many small ways.
Oh sure, there are those folks — most of us have some around, at least occasionally — who talk a good line, but when it comes right down to it do not put themselves out for others much at all.
On the other hand, I have personally witnessed some exceptional people at work being generous in recent days. Though their acts of generosity have been done in a completely selfless manner, they deserve a big hurrah in my book.
The first act of generous giving was a huge surprise. I was at work at the Sawdust Studio Art Classes just after lunch, waiting for the afternoon class to begin.
A delightful couple — Cliff and Sharon — from northern California had been there in the morning for Maggie Spencer's fused glass class. They had a good time and had decided to return after a lunch at Laguna Culinary Arts to take Erin Elowe's water casting class.
The couple came back a little early, and we struck up a conversation about a variety of things. I said something about not doing sculptural work any longer because of the pain in my left hand, which I assume is due to arthritic changes.
Cliff politely asked, "May I?" and took my hand in his. Almost immediately I could feel the change as he manipulated my hand, explaining as he went.
To make a long story short, Cliff generously spent nearly 40 minutes on my hands and arms, breaking up the calcium deposits and instructing me as he went. Wow! Think what I would have had to pay for this open-hearted gift of healing hands.
The next gift was not such a surprise. A student and friend had offered to give my 4-year-old grandson Hank and me a tour of the Manhattan Beach police and fire departments. The surprise was that it was all so much more than anticipated, with patient, loving folks giving of their time to make the event a whopper in the eyes of both the 4-year-old and his grandmother.
The day never let up, with generous and good-spirited people everywhere we went. It all made the long day really memorable for both of us. I'm sure Hank is still telling everyone all about the thrills of the day. I know I am.
Then came the over-the-top instance of generosity. Arriving home a little grumpy from having messed up on the time for a good walk with friend Lynn, I came around the corner of my house to see a clean-swept street, yard, deck and walkways. I thought I was dreaming.
Then, I spotted my neighbor's smiling mother rounding the corner with a rake. What? She could not have done all this in an hour. I was still mystified. What was going on?
It was not until a bit of investigation that I discovered that the entire neighboring family — kids and all — had tackled our yard and environs, cleaning them of leaves and weeds and more. When asked why, they merely said it was a "humanitarian gesture."
I know this family. Their lives are very busy. This was a gift of generosity of the sort spoken of by Khalil Gibran. There are not enough thanks that can be given in return.
I am excited by these acts of kindness and inspired to do likewise in whatever ways that I can. I am thankful that these folks came into my life and offered their gifts in an unselfish manner as they did.
I believe, as does Jose Marti that, "Happiness exists on earth, and it is won through prudent exercise of reason, knowledge of the harmony of the universe, and constant practice of generosity."
We could all practice random acts of kindness. It really isn't that difficult to give. I thank these kind folks who have graced me with the reminders.
CHERRIL DOTY is an artist, writer, counselor … always fascinated, inspired, and titillated by the beauty and myriad mysteries of life. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (714) 745-9973.