Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sidewalk Massage

Just Because It Feels Good

I was sweeping the sidewalk this morning in front of the shop. It was a simple activity, and nothing to muse on -- at first. I swept dirt and leaves away, making the front of the shop look tidy. Then I used the broom to quite thoroughly scrub out some of the seams. The dirt had accumulated over however many months/years. There are quite a few seams in front of the store, and they all were black with dirt. The scrubbing worked - the seams were returning to a fresher, whiter color.

I did it for awhile. After about 20 minutes, my left-brain said, "Why are you still doing this? No one is going to notice. It's a waste of time."

At the same time, my right-brain was enjoying the experience - simple rhythm, simple motion, simple results. So I kept at it.

I was looking very carefully at the sidewalk as I was sweeping it, cleaning it. And looking more closely at it, something shifted. My emerging sense of empathy kicked in. I started to appreciate it. Not as a piece of art or anything like that, but more like...a friend. This sidewalk has been supporting folks as they walk past my address for years and years and years. Most people probably don't even notice it.

And I though, "Gee, it seems like it deserves a little more respect than that." Indeed, I had stopped sweeping it for anything related to my benefit, and had started caring for it as a colleague, a friend. Somebody who was always there, willing to do the job without complaint.

I realized that I was actually treating it with kindness, giving it the equivalent of a massage and exfoliation treatment. I did it not because it would look better to my prospective customers, but because I wanted to make it feel better, look better. It was a gift of some love and attention.

Did it need a massage? Probably not. But I think it appreciated getting one.

The unattached giving was an interesting thing to experience. So easy to give to a sidewalk.

It just struck me as I write this...I passed a homeless man this morning as I walked from the coffee shop to Firefly Willows, and offered him a hello. But I didn't spend an hour grooming him. How deep does my capacity for unattached giving really go? Do I have the same capacity for him as I have for the sidewalk? If not, why not?

Boy, I have a lot to learn.

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