"Everything becomes sacred wherever you go. Let no one come to you without leaving better and happier." - Thich Nhat Hanh
Whenever I get to thinking that I'm so "special"...better than the next guy or less than everybody else...I know I'm heading in the wrong direction.
Of course, it doesn't stop me from feeling both extremes...and often, more than once a day! I guess it's human nature to want to feel superior; also, a very human characteristic to see life as "less than" when we are around those who seem to have so much more.
Years ago, my sister Diana worked as a hostess at an elegant restaurant at the famous Parker House Hotel in Boston
(think Beacon Street, Parker House rolls and baked scrod!)
For Sunday brunch, they hired a harpist to play for the guests. My sister clued me in to the fact that, before they opened the doors to the restaurant and as the diners flowed into the room, the harpist always played the song from A Little Night Music: "SEND IN THE CLOWNS."
The joke was mostly lost on the guests, but all of the help - from the dishwashers to the waiters, from the maitre d' to the sommelier - loved it (and laughed heartily behind the scenes!) each and every week.
I must admit - even to this day, if I don't watch myself - that very same mantra can play in my head on a daily basis. After all, it's so much more fun and easier to feel superior and condescending than to feel compassion and love for all!
But I simply have to agree with what James Russell Lowell had to say about the subject: "Whatever you may be sure of, be sure of this: that you are dreadfully like other people."
OK, OK...if you're reading this still confident that you're different from all the rest, I will concede you this much: each and every one of us is unique in many ways.
Our fingerprints are certainly distinctive; our genetic make up is always one-of-a-kind; our personality and physical characteristics vary immensely; and it seems that our age and stage in life makes for very different perceptions about what is going on in the world.
But despite all these ways we seem to be so very far apart, one of the most important life lessons I am sure that I have come to this planet to learn - is that the fact of the matter is, when push comes to shove, we humans are much more alike than different.
You need think of nothing more than that the need for love and the desire for happiness is common to us all. And when I really dig down deeply into my"better angel" side - that's good enough for me!
The inimitable Vincent Van Gogh said: "I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people."
Can you imagine the humility of this statement coming from one of the greatest artistic geniuses of all time?! (I should be so wise!)
Marianne Williamson, one of my favorite spiritual teachers of our time, suggests we start each day out with the following statement:
"Today I seek to love everyone. My mind and heart were created to be a vessel of God's compassion, and today I pray to be aligned with His intention for my life."
She then follows this up with a powerful prayer:
It isn't easy to be a lover of the world, but today I will try.
May my love expand to include everyone, both those
I like and those I do not like.
Help me to love more deeply
that my life might be of greatest use.
Just for today, I vow to fall in love with an many things as possible, but mostly with the myriad of people in my life!
Go ahead...send in the clowns. After all, it takes one to know one!