ME, MYSELF AND I. Staying Selfless in a “Selfie” World.
A few weeks ago I got off a plane and did the first thing most every woman does. I headed to the bathroom. As a rule, I never pass one up.
Of course there was a line because when isn’t there one. That day all the gals in line wanted only one thing from this life. Go. Get out. Get home.
So it’s what I did.
I went, I got out… and then this.
I walked out of the stall to a bay of three sinks. In front of one of them was a beautiful, exotic woman who was having the best time at her very own “selfie-in-the-bathroom” photo shoot. I rolled my bag out and waited for her to vacate the sink area. She fluffed her hair and her breasts and snapped a few dozen pictures, checking her phone after each one. She was completely, one hundred percent unaware I and others were waiting to rid ourselves of some nasty airport germs. Finally, when she was pleased with the results, she confidently walked out into the Gate C-19 boarding area, oblivious to the line of waiting women she left in her wake.
My fellow travelers and I exchanged amused glances, some shaking their heads. We each knew what the others were thinking.
So this is it. This is our world. (Sigh). The one where we live, move and have our being. A selfie world.
I mean it’s not like we all take selfies in airport bathrooms, though. In fact, I would say most of us don’t. We don’t all own selfie sticks, (although I can think of a few times one would’ve come in handy). But as adults who should be on a slow trajectory away from selfishness after exiting the womb, it seems we all have, at times, a propensity to dwell on ourselves. Me, myself and I.
What is this fixation with self? Is it about attention? Is it about comparison or self-esteem? Pity, maybe? I can easily spin off down all kinds of rabbit trails leading to dark and grim rooms of the human heart. I don’t want to go there, though. I really don’t. It would be such a waste of a sunshiny day.
So instead, I’ll let my internal compass do its thing. Not once has it failed to get me back on track–pointing me to my true north. The place where selflessness is still alive and well and kicking butt.
It’s where Suzanne lives. Suzanne, who wakes one Sunday morning and on a whim drives a couple hundred miles and arrives unannounced simply to sit with a friend on her porch because she knows her friend is struggling. It’s where Maurie, only days after her own mom’s funeral, pays a joy-giving visit to another mother living out her last days. In my true north, there are people who let their blessings flow through their fingers like rivers of living water. Their laughter is so contagious–their joy so palpable–they can flip the mood in a room just by walking in the door. They show up and stay if needed. They take out trash, drive people to appointments and will cry it out with you. They don’t just have ideas on how to help, they actually carry them through.
And that’s not all.
They listen. They give you a swift kick in the arse to get you out the door when you need it to remind you to rise above the struggle. They rearrange plans–sometimes important ones. They sacrifice time and money. They pick up the slack and never excuse themselves from it. They don’t pass things off to someone else. They enter in. They are present. They are quiet sorts when it comes to tooting their own horns. In fact, unless they come really near you, you might never know of their actions at all. You will not find a record of their selflessness on social media no matter how hard you look. They walk the delicate balance between their own overwhelming joy and unbelievable tragedy with a beautiful grace. In fact, you likely will never know which side their foot is slipping into, because they are selfless navigators of their circumstances, be they joyful or heartbreaking. They turn everything outward, these selfless ones.
I’m watching them, and my hope for mankind isn’t diminishing after all. It’s growing! They’re teaching you and me all kinds of stuff about being the hands and feet and heart of Christ if we will see it. If we will receive it.
They’re teaching me gems like these.
We mustn’t wear our heartache and hurt like a badge of honor, hanging on to it like it’s our best friend– believing our grief to be so much greater than that which others are bearing. With strength and humility, we each must bear out the measure of heartache dealt us so that we might gain empathy as we push through it and survive–so our sadness will count for something greater than ourselves.
We mustn’t hide our light and our joy when life gives us a cup full of it. It would be ingratitude to do so. We should dance in it and let it spill over as it will, letting it splash on all of those we come in contact with…sharing the bounty of it and the laughter in it and the hope. We will be living proof that joy does come in the morning.
Our sadness must never require others to cover their light when it’s their season of joy. Their joy will give us a little joy too if we let it. It will be healing salve to us. And our joy must never fail to see the sadness just across the street, where hope and light are in short supply. The sadness in others should hurt our hearts too, if we let it. It will humble us as we enter in.
This is the beautiful essence of selflessness. The circle of it.
I aspire to it. I aspire to walk down the road, always looking right and left to see something or someone other than myself.
Today when I was upstairs writing, a woman quietly left a big basket chock full of the most beautiful vegetables you’ve ever seen on my doorstep. She grew them with her own hands and harvested them in this Texas summer heat. And for some reason she thought to share them with me. She has walked through unbelievable hard stuff this past year, and would you look at her turning it all outward.
Beautiful selflessness. May we see it, take note of it and become it. It’s the thing that will keep the world from tipping over.
The last time I checked, the camera on my cell phone still defaults to focusing outward and away from me.
Kind of ironic and wonderful, isn’t it? Technology actually reminding us to be to be selfless.