I am coming to believe that living in the state of routine and habit and same-same-same on a daily basis is the real Twilight Zone; this is the irony.
After I gave the lecture a few weeks back, a woman came up to me and immediately asked if she could take me to lunch. Nothing can be lost from networking, I believe. She had won some of my chocolate truffles given away in the drawing proceeding the event, too, so I was enthusiastic about following up with her about her opinion and her potential as a client.
I soon learned that she had made her last New Years resolution to really step out of her bubble and expand herself. (she lives in the wealthiest enclave of Dallas, known as Highland Park) Her mission was to have lunch with a stranger, 1 per week, 52 strangers in a year. They pick the place, she treats the person, and learns everything she can about them in the course of the meal. Talk about stepping out of your comfort zone! Goodness, I get nervous being with people that smack or talk with food in their mouths or have any sort of classless loud table manners. (when i was 8yrs old I told my best girlfriend I couldn’t be her friend if she smacked; she still remembers) I could only imagine what she has experienced. So at this point, I was more anxious to lunch with her and hear about all her past engagements. Boy was I humbled.
She shared with me a recent episode of having been going to her car in a popular shopping complex when two homeless guys came up to her and asked for money. She honestly told them she didn’t carry loose change. They obviously felt slighted and snidely complained they were ‘really just hungry’. So she complied by offering to treat them to Jason’s Deli for a meal, if that was the honest case. Of course they took her up on it. She is a lovely, well-to-do, well-dressed, properly coiffed woman. No less so, she strolled right into the deli with two filthy, ragged, worn down, stinky smelling men. As they sat at the table with their order number waiting for the meals to arrive, it was obvious that everyone in the place was starring. She relayed to me how her lunch guest were both ashamed for her and one commented ‘I am so sorry that people are starring at you; this must be so embarassing for you.’ She proudly told them that it was the other diner’s shame in themselves that they would probably never be brave enough to do something like this. She is a God-loving, church going woman and is genuinely seeking to feed people, to reach out, and know people out of the kindness of her heart. And yes truthfully, we are all so wrapped up in our own lives that acts of this kind of humility are very hard to acknowledge. This kind of behavior slaps our egos in the face.
But the truth is, it takes large examples like this to get us to step back and notice the graciousness of humans and the kindness that is possible in all of us. This particular scenario isn’t the prerequisite by any means; it is an example of going beyond ourselves, stepping out of our routine or box and being there for someone else. Our emotions and thoughts are involuntary and reactionary, like first impressions. We don’t grow in our comfort zones, nor do we ever learn what we are really capable of. Often we need a bit of humility to really appreciate what we have. I was beyond humbled by her story. And I now wonder in what way I can expand myself more.