I searched this blog for ‘slow’ and the results came back with 10 posts, of which Slowing Down was the top of the list. A cancer diagnosis, an unexpected health crisis, the death of a loved one…those awaken a need to slow down. I remember, though, in my work in the corporate world that I was hungry for an intentionality, a consciousness, a being that was often challenging to find, given people running around on autopilot and an organizational emphasis on speed.
I picked the morning sunrise photo because starting the day with the sun rising invites a slowness, a stillness. When I remember that morning walk on playa de San Agustinillo, in my body I feel the sense of peace and possibility for the day.
I have been reading a chapter or two or three a week of The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World with his holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Abrams, which was given to me earlier this year as a birthday gift by a dear friend. I love what they say on pages 274 and 275 about a generous spirit and generosity, which I’ve excerpt below:
“When we have a generous spirit, we are easy to be with and fun to be with. We radiate happiness, and our very company can bring joy to others. This no doubt goes hand in hand with the ability…to be less self-centered, less self-regarding, and more self-forgetful. Then we are less burdened by our self agenda: We do not have anything to prove. We do not need to be seen in a particular way. We can have less pretension and more openness, more honesty. This naturally brings ease to those around us, too; as we have accepted ourselves, our vulnerabilities, and our humanity, we can accept the humanity of others. We can have compassion for our faults and have compassion for those of others. We can be generous and give out joy to others.”
“In generosity, there is a wider perspective, in which we see our connection to all others. There is a humility that recognizes our place in the world and acknowledges that at another time we could be the one in need, whether that need is material, emotional, or spiritual. There is a sense of humor and an ability to laugh at ourselves so that we do not take ourselves so seriously. There is an acceptance of lie, in which we do not force life to be other than what it is. There is a forgiveness of others and a release of what might otherwise have been. There is a gratitude for all that we have been given. Finally, we see others with a deep compassion and a desire to help those who are in need. And from this comes a generosity that is ‘wise-selfish’, a generosity that recognizes helping others as helping ourselves.”
I want to be a generous spirit, to be what the Archbishop describes as “becoming an oasis of peace, a pool of serenity that ripples out to all of those around us.”. And, I want to contribute to creating a more generous world. Where I am now, I see opportunity for growth in expanding my self-compassion and enhancing my ability to laugh at myself.
* I took this photo in Istanbul Turkey in 2010. I picked a photo from this lovely country because in my experience there, I felt a the people’s generosity of spirit, kindness and hospitality very strongly. I especially liked photo because it captures the simple joy that kids spread.
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
This is a beautiful poem that invites me to shift when I am filled with fear and want o find my way to grace and freedom. I hope you like it, too. I don’t remember now where I first read it, although its special touch continues to linger.
* I took this photo in Verbania Italy of Lake Maggiore at sunset and chose to include it in this post because I find the light mysterious and soothing.