English: A picture of my calabash pipe. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Madeline Laughs
When I was very young and outgrew my favorite clothing and toys I was asked to share them with children that would still get use and pleasure from them. If I had an overabundance of something I was again asked to share what I had. I was a child and children are naturally selfish without inhibition, so I rebelled. “No! I do not want to give away my favorite shirt or my favorite doll! I will not share just because I have two! Let them get their own stuff!”
My beautifully gentle, Scottish grandfather would sit me down, and in between puffs on his tobacco pipe, he would explain to me that being generous and sharing was a learned behavior and not something that came easily to anyone, even when they knew the importance of it.
Recently I met someone so stingy with the items he brought to share that it made me angry. He and several others were visiting and he had brought some fun items of clothing to share because he wanted them included in some photographs. He freely passed them out to everyone “Here! Try this one on to see if it fits!” Everyone ended up with bags and bags of new clothing to wear, except one person. One person wasn’t offered a single item to try on, not even a t-shirt. Even when the giver was asked if he had brought an extra, he replied “Oh yes, I have something for you!” and went his merry way, never fulfilling his offer at all.
For two weeks everyone sported their new clothes, being photographed and feeling posh, while the one person who was also actively participating in the fun too, wore what he had. I wonder if perhaps his declaration of having an extra item to share was his way of buying a little time. Knowing he would never fulfill his promise, but wanting to ensure his friends would still have a comfortable bed to sleep in during their time visiting, he could drag it out until the last day, knowing his hosts would continue on their best behavior as long as they thought they were going to reap the benefit of his generosity in the end?
The day the visitors left to go home I waited patiently, hoping he would be true to his word, but he failed to alleviate my disappointment in him. He still gave nothing to the person he left out, but he left behind piles of used clothing asking that they be shipped back to him.
This behavior was mean-spirited, selfish, insensitive and in my opinion, unforgivable.
I wondered to myself several times during their visit, as I served them elaborate meals and entertained, how he would feel, if after I served everyone a plate of delectable morsels, I placed a piece of dry toast on a napkin before him and said “Bon appetit!” But of course, I would never be that rude.
I don’t know what his reasons are for not being generous with everyone involved in the activities he planned while he was here. I don’t really care anymore what they are. All I do know is that he behaved badly and he is not someone I will ever give much of my attention to in the future. He taught me a valuable lesson in sharing and that is to include everyone, even if it doesn’t suit you to do so. If you can’t include everyone, make sure the people left out know why they are not worthy of your generosity, so they can make other plans.
To share and to be generous is not being human, it is being alive, knowing that life is precious and unless you can share, you will never truly live at all.
- Clothing Your Soul (guidedfromabove.com)