I cannot say this enough but this is a quality that amazes me always (something Prakash Iyer mentioned in his book 'How Come No One Told Me That Before) - of giving before they ask. Now the normal behavior when someone is going through something is 'hey, let me know if there's anything I can do for you'. Prakash says this pretty clearly - that's pure bullshit. If you intend to do something - do it - don't simply intend it. He gives the example of 'there were three monkeys on a branch and one of them decided to jump'. How many monkeys are there on the branch?' The answer is three - the monkey decided to do it, but it did not.
|Do - Like Nature Does!|
A classic example is what happens when people are in need of money of some help - like a medical emergency. Case 1 in point - our school friends spent a lot of time discussing how we should start a trust to help those of us who may need financial assistance etc...lots of thought into how many it should help, how large the umbrella should be, and some even promised to raise money. Cut to a month later when one of the core people in the group was down with a serious illness - a kidney transplant - and what do we get from the group. 'If there's any shortfall, let us know.'
As we all know, this let us know business is like the monkey deciding to jump. (I have used this line enough times to know that I do not do anything with it).
So we come to Case 2 in point. A medical emergency again - my mother in law had a knee replacement surgery. It was not the she was short of money or that she needed or asked for help. Her children are well placed and she was herself doing a fairly good job of managing her finances well. When Shobhs was planning to go to be with her for her surgery my mother, not as highly educated nor literate, but abundant with the principles of the world and of goodness, not necessarily richer than my mother in law either, quietly put a packet of 10000 rupees in Shobh's hands as she left. I would not have known if Shobhs had not told me. I do think I should write a few principles of Mom's - Lessons Mom Taught me Through Her Actions series.
Give. Whatever you can. Don't talk about. Don't tell anyone. Definitely don't say 'hey call me if you need anything'.
Go and spend time. Stay for an hour and give some respite. Take an apple. A book, A smile. A hundred rupees. Make a cup of tea. Take some food. Make some food (I remember my friend Hai Rao coming to meet me when I was down with a health issue and cooking the best pongal for me at my own home - just as the doctor ordered. To date one of the best I have eaten.) Hold their hand. Be there. Make them feel better, supported, cared for.
Whatever it is - do it.
I am trying to imbibe this quality which to me is one of the highest. I fall very short as things are now - I catch myself saying 'let me know' quite often. But someday soon I want to get to that space where I can give quietly, unconditionally - just slip it into their hand. A hand around their waist, their shoulder.
To do then, graciously and thoughtfully. On it. And thanks Prakash Iyer, for a timely reminder.