The other day I was recovering from a cold. I was not feeling very energetic so I lay down for a while on the couch to read. An old companion of mine entered the room and started making his presence known. Actually, it was a feeling. It was the feeling of not doing enough, not being productive enough, not really having my life together enough, like I should have. For heaven sakes Julie, what do you do? The last few years I’ve spent a fair amount of time getting rid of this “old buddy”, but here he shows up again.
I think about the years I spent living in Central Asia. Many of my early years there I was nagged by the feeling that I wasn’t doing enough. I should get out there more, meet more people, have more people over for dinner, and learn language better. I had an unending list of shoulds. Now I am learning I was not meant to do the shoulds but be me, right there, right then. Be the person I was. Love and care for people the way I could. Love and care for my family. Words were a small part, living and loving the bigger part. I think about the gifts I received, in the form of what I learned from living among a people different from me. I learned so much! Not by being told how to do something, but by the example of my friend’s lives. They just did the things that were normal to them and what were normal to them became important things for me to learn. Here are some examples. I learned the important place that elders have in society. They are honored, taken care of, and listened to. I learned how to speak blessings over people. That’s what they do, all the time. I was blessed when I came in and when I went out. I was blessed when I was met on the street. I was taught how to treat guests with great honor because the guest was bringing great honor to me by visiting. These and many more were gifts to me. They are gifts that have become a part of my life. I treasure them and I treasure these friends who taught me. I wonder if there were things about me, gifts that I left with my friends in this the same way. I have an inkling of what they might be, but I don’t really know. What really matters now is for me to continue to be the person I am. I am growing in paying attention to the day at hand and the opportunities that come to do good in each day. In doing that I have gifts to share with others just as I have gifts to receive from others. I enjoy life so much more when I live this way.