Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sharing Champagne

It all started July 4th sitting near Nashville's riverfront awaiting the yearly fireworks display. From my folding chair on the sidewalk, I looked around at the masses many of them drinking beer, socializing before the evening’s colorful climax. I looked around and was embarrassed to admit what crossed my mind for I found myself thinking, ‘I really don’t like people.’ I eventually confided my judgments in the person with me who confessed he was thinking likewise.
Upon further shared wonderings, we determined it wasn’t necessarily people we disliked as much as people’s unawareness as well as our materialistic culture where consuming and competing trump consciousness and connecting the dots. We wondered what it might be like to celebrate an event such as the fourth somewhere in Europe. Certainly in France for example there would be drinking, but surely it would be more refined as in wine? I didn’t mention that I had earlier in the week intended to buy a bottle of champagne, not necessarily for this particular evening but for a celebratory moment.
As I sat wishing for that intended drink, I heard a voice ask, “Who wants champagne?” The voice belonged to a woman in a nearby group. Her friends were all drinking beer. To her surprise, I called out, “Now I know why I sat by you guys. I’d love a glass of champagne.”
Mary Beth could have easily thought me strange and ignored me, but she didn’t. We toasted in lovely glasses then talked. I sipped shared champagne acutely aware that this woman’s generosity altered my attitude as well as reminding me of synchronistic times when the very thing I was thinking arrived as if the Universe or God was saying, “You asked and here it is.”
Of course some people could say: If God or a spiritual being provides champagne on demand why can’t this being end strife and suffering in the world? I don’t have that answer. But I do know shared champagne suddenly created a shift in the lens through which I experience life.
The next day heading out for my morning walk, I heard a neighbor call, “Dawn, I’ve some clothes for you.” Some people pay personal shoppers to assist in their wardrobe selection. I have Judy a neighbor who periodically shares clothing finds with me from her excursions to area yard sales. The week prior I had worn two shirts and a skirt courtesy of Judy that received several compliments.
That afternoon I remembered owing a bit of money to the young woman who designed my website. I hurriedly sent her an email promising I’d place a check in the next day’s mail. She suggested instead that I give the money to a cause I support. The local Humane Association received a check from me on behalf of Leslie sharing her time. I then asked someone consulting with me if she would do likewise. My client happily in turn donated the fee for my service to an area family shelter continuing the cycle of sharing time and money initiated by Leslie.
Suddenly everything I saw or heard was related to sharing. My friend Yvette told of sharing eleven inches of her newly cut hair with a children’s cancer hospital for wigs. Another friend related her story of connecting through different websites with two young people in Kenya who she now shares a minimal monthly donation with, allowing one a college education and the other food and clothing. These two young people, born into opposing factions, have now met thanks to shared connections with my friend half the world away. Another friend navigating a major health crisis asked if she could share in the healing presence of my kittens. I gladly agreed although my kittens seemed more interested in tumbling and entertaining my friend than sitting in her lap as I envisioned. Shortly after this, I returned from a walk to find my neighbor and his friend on our roof cutting tree limbs that I had said thirty minutes prior needed cutting. They shared their time and energy and in turn I shared gratitude and pay.
I even discovered the unobtrusive way in which nature quietly and persistently shares with us. One morning as I sat with my eyes closed in the gliding chair on my deck, the birds sang and insects hummed. Nature shared its song as well as its vibration as I not only heard but felt the palpable presence of everything alive in my backyard.
Opening my eyes the first thing I noticed were the flowers nearby, impatience to be exact. Several blossoms seemed to look at me as I looked at them. It was in this mutually shared moment that I realized sharing is inevitable. We cannot not share. We are constant participants in a cycle of sharing the tangibles and intangibles, be it our money, time or energy or our quiet judgments and critiques.
The only thing within our control is the quality of our awareness. We choose to be open or closed, live on autopilot or practice presence. My autopilot was definitely working the night of the Fourth as I sat in judgment of those around me thinking they weren’t connecting the dots forgetting my only task is to connect my dots, the ones within me impacting my experiences.
This realization prompted me to connect other dots, the ones related to God’s seeming non-interventionist attitude toward the world. What if our inattention is a primary cause of discord not only in our personal lives but in the world? What if the fabric of community and culture unravels as we neglect presence? What if God or a creative power is waiting, waiting for us to wake up to the many ways in which we can share with one another and increase understanding, empathy and compassion? What if we are agents and angels meant to diminish strife and suffering on earth? What if we don’t have to go it alone, but we’ve partners in one another as well as in the spiritual realms to assist in manifesting our desires and needs?
I contributed to the unraveling of my internal fabric as well as the greater whole while sitting in judgment the Fourth of July and hopefully began to mend my portion of the tear through having the presence and courage to acknowledge my judgments and realize our shared journey on this shared planet.
How beautiful that a stranger’s graciously offering a synchronistic glass of champagne initiated a shift prompting me to hear and see the many threads we weave in life’s fabric, threads that whether we’re aware of them or not, we are continuously sharing. For we journey as individuals separate yet together connected through shared threads of conversation, smiles, glances, money, pets, children, hair, energy, thoughts, stories, ideas and inspirations, and yes, champagne.
Imagine a world in which we're aware and grateful for the many opportunities and ways in which we share the tangibles and the intangibles. Let's toast to that.