Yesterday I wrote about my dad; and one of the qualities I talked about, was his generosity. I’ve been thinking about it and, while he was certainly generous about sharing the fruits of his labour, it was all the other, much more important and meaningful ways he was generous, that made him the wonderful and beloved human being that he was.
What comes to your mind, when you think of ‘generosity’?
For me it’s when someone needs a hug, and your arms are outstretched. When someone needs a shoulder to cry on, and yours is waiting. When someone needs a sounding board, and you’re all ears. When someone’s in trouble, and you’re there to lend support.
When someone needs attention, and you’ve got all the time in the world. When someone needs a helping hand, and yours is at the ready.
Generosity of spirit, is what I’m talking about.
The intangibles, in other words. The gifts that don’t come with a price tag. They’re unquantifiable.
Your time. Your attention. Your affection. Your acceptance. Your kindness. Your support. Your encouragement. Your blessing. Your expertise. Your experience. Your wisdom. Your judgement. Your tolerance. Your understanding. Your selflessness. Your respect. Your heart.
Generosity. True generosity.
It’s easy to give money. All you have to do is reach into your pocket. Sometimes it’s necessary. Sometimes it’s welcomed. Hopefully it’s appreciated. But it’s easy, none the less. Or at least it’s ‘easier’ than giving of yourself. Which is what I’ve just been writing about.
Maybe you remember a blog I wrote about a farmer, in India, who offered to get his tractor and take me, and my travelling companions, to our hotel when our van broke down, close to the field where he was working. Or the family who were so poor, three generations were forced to share two tiny rooms; but that didn’t stop them from inviting seven of us for tea. Or when I wrote about the driver of our van in the South of India, who surprised me with a visit to a nursery, because he noticed, during the week we spent together, how much I loved flowers.
Most remarkable, because in each case, we were total strangers. None of them had ever even laid eyes on us before. Generosity of the highest order.
The mentors I’ve had, throughout my career. The men, and women, who dutifully read each and every word of each and every story, article, press release, script, copy deck, and chapter I sent them, asking for feedback. No matter how many times I asked. Taking time out of their busy schedules to give me the guidance I needed, in those early days. The friends who patiently listened to my tales of woe. Who helped me celebrate my ‘wins’. And commiserated over my losses.
People who don’t know you, but stop to ask if you’re all right when you’ve fallen down. Or ask if you’re lost, when you’re standing on a street corner, looking dazed; and then walk three blocks out of their way, to make sure you get to where you’re going.
And kids, like my cousin’s twelve year old daughter, Arielle who, as part of a volunteer program at school, visited her local animal shelter after school each day to hug the animals. When asked why she did it, her answer was simply: “So they’d feel loved.”
Kind of puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?
Usually when I use quotes, I begin my blogs with them. Today, I thought I’d end with one. A favourite of mine, from Khalil Gibran:
“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”.