Going with the Ebb and Flow

“Action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change – this is the rhythm of living. Out of our confidence, fear; out of our fear, clearer vision, fresh hope. And out of hope, progress.” ~ Bruce Barton

Since starting this Year of Kindness, and even long before that, I faced many self-imposed obstacles to completing the journey. Fear of judgement, lack of time, questioning my own intentions and wondering if one person really can make a difference. But even when I was fearful or unsure, I could always see the importance of the cause, could always push through doubts and find motivation in the bigger picture. I have wavered but I have never just plain run out of steam.

Until about two weeks ago, when my motivation just floated away like a wisp of cloud into clear blue sky. I didn’t push myself to chase after it. I kind of just assumed that this indifference was another “season” and would soon pass. Since there was no obvious cause for this ebb of inspiration, surely after a couple of days it would start to flow again. Maybe there was a reason I couldn’t see right now.

And then last night I participated in the Winter Sleepout – raising money and awareness for homeless youths by sleeping “rough” in the cold and rain in a friend’s backyard. I did this with a lovely group of Lucca Leadership people, an amazing program I took part in at the beginning of this year which played a huge part in me deciding to do this Year of Kindness. The Sleepout was an element of the kindness project that I had helped organise a while ago after a thought-provoking conversation with a homeless man. And this kindness came at just the right time (as these things usually do). It was nowhere near as challenging as a real night on the streets. We were in the security of a backyard, with warm food, a tarp shielding us (mostly) from the rain and a fire. So there were many things to feel grateful for. But what I felt most thankful about in that uncomfortable situation was a great group of people to be in it with. From speaking to a few homeless people during YOK I know that what they want most of all is not money or food but someone to acknowledge them and talk to them like a fellow human being. I cannot imagine the loneliness of having not a single friend that would take you in and give you shelter and food.

The cosy sleeping arrangements during the Sleepout...

I felt lucky to be surrounded by people to talk to and connect with, and even more than that, people who want to live big-hearted and purposeful lives. Everyone there was a Lucca Leadership person, and therefore all very inspiring and insightful people in different ways. We had all taken part in the amazing Lucca experience which, among other things, involved asking ourselves big questions about the world and our place in it. How can we contribute to making the world a better place? Last night we spoke about how difficult it is to stay on track, to hold on to inspired energy in the practicality of everyday life. We all agreed it’s easy enough to find the creativity and energy. The hard part is keeping it. But I realised we are lucky to even have the chance to give to others. We have enough for ourselves, we are not struggling to get by like so many people are, we have food and shelter and friends who provide support and love and encouragement. Each and every one of us has the opportunity to make a positive contribution. Ready, set, go!

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Am
    Aug 07, 2011 @ 20:01:15

    Inspiration comes from the funniest of places sometimes.


  2. Eric Winger
    Aug 08, 2011 @ 00:15:47

    It was interesting to hear about a sleepout to raise awareness and money for the homeless. Glad you got to participate!

    And don’t worry about the inspiration being there everyday. We can still make a difference with perspiration!

    Cheers to you!


    • happydancecat
      Aug 08, 2011 @ 22:48:02

      Yes, it was a very interesting experience, Eric. And we managed to raise quite a bit of money for an organisation that works with homeless young people, too.

      I guess I just have to go with perspiration for a while, its all part of the process! But speaking of inspiration, I finally posted your guest post, check it out! 🙂


  3. coyotemoonwatch
    Aug 08, 2011 @ 02:44:05

    I’m a Gringo living in a rural area in Costa Rica. I was Skyping with a friend last night who lives 25 kilometers in a different direction from me. I was commenting to her how earlier in the day my neighbors were stopping by and giving me food. These are all people who have much much less than I do (and I’m a poor Gringo living here because I can’t survive in the U.S., but I still have more). One man stopped and gave me some chorizzo because he was telling me it is the best chorizzo around, and he wanted me to try it. Gratis, el me dijo. It was good. (It was a little bit hot, which is something that’s hard to find in Costa Rica as the general diet here is quiet boring and bland. And I like hot, so I’m glad to know where I can buy chorizzo piquante). A bit later, another neighbor called out my name, and when I came out into the fading light, he had a pot of hot seafood soup he had just made. It was delicious!

    The reason I tell that brief story is because in my commenting to my other Gringa friend, she complained that her neighbors gave her nothing; that she gave them things, but they never reciprocated; that they came over to her house to get helped with English, but they never brought anything. She was bummed out and was feeling that she was a loser, and that nobody liked her, and she didn’t know why people weren’t generous with her. I actually had quite a long-winded reply for her sort of weaving across a myriad of perceptions and views (from automobiles to working alongside my helpers instead of reading a book and being lazy while they worked), but the gist of what I felt and hope I conveyed was that I also have neighbors, many neighbors, who give me nothing physical ever because they’re too poor to give me anything. But they give me their friendship. They give me smiles. They will stop and give me advice on how to, for example, get rid of leaf-eating ants that are defoliating my orange trees or spend a few minutes telling me which of the myriad of twisted vines wrapping around my trees are good vines (maybe sweet potatoes or chayote) or bad vines just strangling out the life of the trees.

    I have chosen in living here to not have a car, partly because of money, but mostly because of health and community, so I walk everywhere. The road to my house is a bit more than one kilometer up a very very steep hill. All the rural Costa Ricans have dogs, all who will bark as I walk past, which brings out the people to look at who’s walking by. So always there is at least a brief Como estas? Vaya con Dios; tengas un buen dias. Sometimes there is a longer conversation about when will my husband return or how is la bebe de Stif y Liz, another Gringo couple who had to go back to the States for a while. Sometimes I’m walking home in the rain with other Ticos who got off the bus, sometimes quite older women carrying a bag. I offer to carry the bag for her (and I’m almost 62) or I’ve held the hand of a young one.

    These are simple things to share — to give and to receive — and they happen because I’m not driving past them in an automobile. The automobile has a lot to do with the breakdown of communities and awareness of people’s plights different than ours (another point I shared with my friend). But in the end, it costs nothing to share an act of kindness, and even for the poorest among my neighbors, it costs them nothing to share a smile.

    So anyhow, I have passed on your blog to her, because it is quietly inspiring. It is a sweet reminder. Thank you.


    • happydancecat
      Aug 08, 2011 @ 23:00:32

      Thankyou so much for sharing all of your beautiful stories of simple kindnesses, coyotemoon. You write with such passion, it gives a clear image of each person and each conversation. I absolutely agree that not driving a car gives so many more opportunities for connection and giving.

      I hope that your friend is able to see that there is so much kindness in the world, and the most lasting happiness comes from giving without expecting anything at all in return.

      It is true kindness when someone has so little for themselves and yet they still find something to give, even if it is just a smile. Thankyou for sharing your insights and reminding me of the importance of these smallest of gestures.


  4. Brenda (Rarey) Renshaw
    Aug 08, 2011 @ 04:18:14

    thanks for the reminder : yes, it is so important to surround ourselves with loving supportive people –those who remind us who we really are.


    • happydancecat
      Aug 08, 2011 @ 22:51:45

      Brenda, you just made me think about this whole situation even more deeply. I think that’s exactly it, we need to be around people who remind us *who we really are*, and I haven’t been doing that so much lately, which is probably why I’ve been feeling a little lost. Thankyou so much for giving me that ah-ha moment!


  5. Low Carb Jo
    Aug 08, 2011 @ 06:12:43

    I’m glad you’re back, happydancecat.


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