It’s not what, why, where, or when you do it.
It’s not what, why, where, or when you do it.
“Don’t expect applause.”
– Pema Chodron
I was waiting for my car to be repaired at Discount Tire. Waiting at the counter, sitting on a tall stool, was a girl of about six. She was coloring in her coloring book. Her little brother started to walk up towards her. He must have been four or five. Anticipating his height, she pushed the stool next to her closer to the counter and he was able to climb onto it. She resumed coloring. He didn’t say thank you and she didn’t anticipate it.
“Don’t expect applause” means don’t await thanks for what you do. And do not do kind acts in hopes of having people like you. Be kind for integrity’s sake.
She used to treat us to McDonald’s every once in awhile, with money she earned selling Avon. We enjoyed sitting with her. My mom always beamed at us with love and pride.
I take my girls out for treats, too. I hope they look back someday (as I do) and remember these good times.
Mom used to visit me in the middle of the night with medicine and a hug when I was sick.
I do the same for my daughters.
Mom used to drive us to violin, cello, piano and Tae Kwon Do lessons.
I drive my daughters to violin lessons, rehearsals, auditions and concerts, too.
Mom was always quick with words of encouragement, compassion and unconditional love.
I try to do the same, but she was (and is) better at it, definitely.
My mother taught me how to be a good parent and a good person. She’s still teaching me this.
Every nurturing mother in the world is the reason we have the compassion, love and support that we pass on.
There is a lot of action being taken nowadays: marches, boycotts, and lawsuits. People are unhappy and want to take action. Action can be good. It sounds better than just sitting on your tush, complaining. Complaining is definitely not productive.
In your own life, you might be pondering an action to take: to breakup with a lover, to make a career change, or to move out of the country. You ask yourself, is it the right thing to do?
In Buddhism, there is a saying, “Make right action.” By “right,” it is meant ideal or wise. It is not meant to be taken as the opposite of the Western concept of “wrong.” It means your decision comes from a place of calm, peace and compassion. And by action, it is all action, not just major decisions.
When you make dinner, serve it lovingly. When you drive, do it compassionately. When you work, do it mindfully. This will add up to a good life for you.
A hint: your action does not have its roots in anger or sadness.
So. Think about your choices. Which action is right action?
A Stanford study showed that all humans – regardless of race – share 99.9% of the same DNA.
We are all the same.
So why are we fighting?
Chris, our neighbor across the street, and my husband were playing whiffle ball at 5pm on Memorial Day. Less than twelve hours later, Chris would shoot his wife and a stranger with his rifle while on a cocaine binge.
Through a series of clues (helicopters flying over head, freeway closing, news reports and three patrol cars in their driveway), we realized what happened. Willey wanted to knock on their door and let the three boys know we were there for them. Their mother was gone and their father was in custody. Were there any family members around for them? We didn’t know. But it felt too soon to “bother them”. A police officer stayed most of the day at their house and we took solace in that.
I couldn’t believe my eyes when a news truck came to our cul-de-sac and knocked on all of our doors for interviews, just twelve hours after the crime. And I was mystified at the lack of visitors – no friends? No family?
Should we go and check on them? No, I thought. They would not want to see anyone right now. And what would we say? I was afraid to say the wrong thing. Maybe in a week…
But this morning, we spotted the two older boys in their open garage. One just graduated from high school, the other is a few years older. We walked over and wordlessly hugged them, all four of us crying. They moved in a few months ago and I had only spoken to their mother a handful of times. Each time, she flashed a huge smile and stopped to talk in a way so few people do these days: with full presence. She spoke with a kind voice and affectionate eyes.
Willey said, “We want you to know we are here for you. If you need ANYTHING, do not hesitate to let us know. Anything.” Tearfully, they expressed their gratitude.
“Up until now, everyone who has called us or come to our door wants to know what happened. They want to know for their own sake. So it means a lot that you say that.” I did not realize that insurance companies, leasing agents, creditors and news organizations land like vultures on a house of survivors. When they need comfort and love the most, it’s the last thing they get.
In the wake of the ever increasing gun violence in our country (there was a murder-homicide on the UCLA campus today), it will be more and more important for us all to retain our humanity. Don’t be numb to it. Go over there. Hold them tight and express compassion.