This has been one of my favorite quotes for several years, and I know that our lives are collectively and individually better when we live like this. I am always touched when I see generosity. What does it mean to be generous? It certainly doesn't mean that the giver must have a lot to consider being generous.
Let me share one of my first memories about generosity. I was raised in a very small town in northwestern Wisconsin. My little community was situated on a lovely, large lake that attracted many people looking to escape from their high-stress "city lives" and come spend a weekend or summer on the lake. Those of us that lived there year round were of very little means. We had lots of farmers and factory workers and shop owners ... it was a simple life. While my family didn't have much, we had much more than two of my classmates, who happened to be Native Americans and lived on a reservation not far from my home. My dad, a truck driver, had made me a fabulous jump-rope with hand-carved handles and hand braided rope. It was very cool, and since jump-rope was a major pastime in elementary school, I was very proud of my handmade jump-rope. No one had anything like it! At least not until my dad asked me if I thought that Marjorie and Hazel would like jump-ropes, too. I wanted to say no! It took my dad a lot of time to make my rope and I was special because I was the only one to have that rope. I remember putting up a bit of a fuss, and I remember "Jeanie, you have been blessed with an awful lot in your life. These girls don't have much. I would like to make them ropes and I would like you to give the ropes to them. We'll make a trip out to the reservation (he knew everyone out there) and give it to them." Now, I was not only disappointed by the fact that these two girls were going to have cool ropes like mine, but he was going to make me go with him to bestow the gifts. I am embarrassed to say that in 1963, we had quite a bit of prejudice going on in our little town, and "we locals" didn't spend time at the "reservation". My dad didn't care about any of that! It took him a few weeks to make their ropes, and it was a memorable trip to visit these girls in their homes. They cried and their mothers cried. Everyone was hugging on my dad; they loved him because he had a generous heart. Many times he gave rides or bought a tank of gas or gave them $10 at the store to help buy some food. At the time, I truly didn't understand it. I wanted a new pair of "bumper tennies" that only cost $5.99, but I was told no because I already had a perfectly good pair of shoes. Many times I heard the lecture about needs and wants. I could only see it as a money issue, and that if we had money to give to other people, we had money to buy me stuff.
What a selfish child! I know a bit of that selfish child still dwells inside me, and when she shows up I don't always ask her to leave. I can be selfish with my time or money or talents or experience at times. As I wander about in the world interacting with people in their places of work or recreation or homes, I look for generosity. I see organizations sharing their wealth with charities. I see people sharing their time in volunteering. I see people doing more with their desire for fitness than just working out - they run/walk/swim/golf for causes. I see leaders giving of their time to develop and mentor those desiring to learn. I see able-bodied people opening doors and helping people up stairs. I see people buying extra groceries to donate to those who can't eat. NO BAD CAN COME FROM YOU AND I ACTING ON A GENEROUS THOUGHT!
Thank-you, Dad, for being a wonderful example of generosity. We all have something we can share with others. Life is better when we don't keep it all to ourselves; we need each other in many different ways and when the voice inside our head says "give" - let's not ignore it. Let's not pause and let our logical brain develop a list of reasons for why it's not a good idea or why we shouldn't. Let's just act on the generous thought and make a difference!