Friday, January 27, 2012

Romance in the Ordinary

Valentine’s Day is here again, and I think it’s a wonderful celebration of Love. I’m glad somebody decided, however many years ago, to make this time an annual time of Romantic remembrance. It is how love happens. We are all a result of that Romance, on some level, and a celebration should be in order for that, if nothing else. Valentine’s Day is a little reminder of how we all began.

We begin to love one another through Romance. Romance gives love its lift. It brings love out into the open. It gives Love room to grow, it lets it breathe, it brings in the light. Romance helps Love get noticed.

But Romance is not limited to a person or a relationship. Romance is about every part of life, in every fashion. I am a lucky man. I have experienced Romance with another person and it is an unforgettable, indelible experience. But some of our most romantic moments can be experienced in the midst of the mundane. Sudden shards of energy break through the blandness and you realize, often unexpectedly, how the magic of Romance surrounds you.

It is always in that you find beautiful. The birds, a sunset, an incredible sky full of color first thing in the morning. Clouds that surround you, rain that chants to you its magical presence. To find Romance in your world is easy: look up and around you. Nature, if nothing else, is Romantic. You are welcomed with a symphony of explosive beauty. Your sense are in love again. If that’s not Romance, I don’t know what is.

But I see Romance in things that set me apart from my normal routine. Romance is in the different spaces of Love. The excitement and energy, to be sure, but Romance lives in the in- between glimpses of life.

Finding ten dollars in a coat pocket, getting a hard to find parking space, standing on your bathroom scale in the morning and find that you’ve lost another pound…these events are encased in Romance. The unexpected gift within the air of gratitude is a clearly, profoundly romantic event, and it happens all the time. Being asked to be a “friend” on facebook, finding that perfect pizza place or getting great seats at a movie. These are all infused with such delight that the feeling of Romance is infused in each moment of every event.

There are so many points of romance within the landscape of every single day. Be prepared to embrace it, to respond with gratitude. It’s not limited to lines within the cards given to one another every February. It’s more than that. A little piece of it of it exists in every one of life’s moments. Take time to notice, OK? Romance is all around you.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Just Giving

I bought a total stranger a cup of coffee this morning. I want to tell you what happened. .

Most mornings I stop by the coffee shop on my way to the office. This morning there was a man sitting at an inside table looking old, tired, dejected, poor.

I tried to make eye contact when I walked by, but his head didn’t move. I got in line, fished a five out of my pocket, and ordered two coffees. One for me, one for him.

I looked again to see if there was anything sitting on the table in front of this man. No coffee, nothing else. I paid for the coffees and went to put some cream in mine.

Turning around to make sure he was still there, I saw that the chairs and tables had been set up and he’d moved there—outdoors in the morning cold.

I picked up both coffees and headed out the door. I felt my hands warm as I held the cups.

As I exited, the man stood up. He was reaching in his pocket. As I left, I gave him his cup of coffee and said “Hey, man, this should warm you up.”

“Sure will. Thank you” was his response. He put the coffee down and pulled a cigarette and matches out of his pocket. As I drove away, I saw him take the first draw from his cigarette, and first sip of his coffee.

Right then, for about a second, I thought I’d been had.

He had cigarettes. And I instantly concluded that if he’d had enough money to buy cigarettes, he should’ve ordered his priorities better. Had he done that, he would’ve had money for coffee.

I immediately felt ashamed.

Years ago, I made a decision. Give without judgment; it frees the heart. And for a split second, I did exactly the opposite.

I saw a man sitting by himself, alone in a coffee shop, at 5:30 in the morning. His clothes were old, worn, and dirty. His face was the same. His head was down, his hands pushed in his pockets. No coffee.

I didn’t ask his age, his background, or his country of origin. I didn’t inquire about his income or his employment. Didn’t ask about his history, his family, or his level of education. And I didn’t ask about the circumstances, the events, or the decisions that lead him to this moment, cold and alone in a coffee shop.

I gave him a cup of coffee because my heart felt his fear, his loneliness, and his chill. I hoped the coffee gave him a little warmth. I made the decision the second I saw him.

This year, and for years to come, give without pause or discrimination. Allow your gift to go forth as unfettered and unencumbered as possible. Let your heart light your offerings, and share with one another the blessings of your spirit.

I’m going to get another cup of coffee….