It’s the rock concert of a lifetime, and you’ve got tickets for the floor. You’re near the stage where the band is storming through their latest album. The crowd is pressing in on you from all sides, and you can hardly breathe. You try to look around, but it’s a tangle of arms and legs everywhere, and you can’t make out faces. What happened? Instead of being swept away by the energy of the crowd, you feel disconnected – and you’re frozen in place.
Has this ever happened to you? Imagine that the concert is a metaphor for life. Have you ever felt yourself falling out of pace from those around you? It’s as if everyone around you needs or wants something from you, and you just don’t know if you have enough to give. Or what it is you’re supposed to be giving. You feel lost in the shuffle, unable to move forward.
It’s with a heavy heart that you trudge through the day. This is a natural response in our bodies when we are confronted with chaos. Fear takes over. Then the side effects of fear start to weigh down on you: negativity, hate, jealously, and pessimism. Are these the right things to give? Is this what the people around you deserve? And what effect does this have on you?
“Faith is taking the first step when you can’t see the whole staircase.”
–Martin Luther King, Jr.
If the concert is too loud or the crowd is too much to handle, what do you do? You put some distance between you and the noise. From a more comfortable distance, you can finally begin to enjoy the music. In our day-to-day lives, we create this distance by setting boundaries. Define a personal space, and defend it. It doesn’t mean that you are separating yourself from those around you. It means you are giving yourself some breathing room, so that you can watch – and participate – in life with a light heart.
Start on the physical level by learning to relax. Take a deep breath and have faith that you know the right thing to give (your time, your attention, your gratitude, your insight…). Don’t let others tell you what is right. You don’t need them to.
Giving is one of those wonderful paradoxes. The more you give, the more you have. You’ll see that you have tolerance, kindness, love, friendship, and gratitude in abundance when you take a moment to seek it. Learning to seek it is the secret, the art, of giving back.
Don’t get caught up in the crowd! There are moments reserved just for you. Imagine yourself light as a feather. You are no longer lost in the shuffle. The shuffle turns into a step, a step into a walk, and a walk into a run! A few moments a day can teach you to master the art of giving back. A few moments a day will build your strength. You’ll see that you do have enough to give. You do know the right part of you to give.