A friend once asked me, “What is life giving for you?”
I know she didn’t expect me to answer right there and then, and she told me that the answer didn’t matter to her. The question she had asked was to prompt me to engage in the mental exercise of determining for myself what is life giving – what breathes life into my face, heart, spirit, body, etc.
What fills me has always been connecting with people, and my life experiences have been about how to make those connections.
On a cool night in June, I had invited my father to a community fundraiser for a non-profit where I volunteer. He could not figure out why, with my busy schedule and full-time job, I would take on another responsibility.
I wanted to show him.
After the fundraiser where he saw art auctioned off to support the organization, met my fellow volunteers, and listened to an explanation of what our organization does, he was even more curious about how I spend my time.
On our way to his home, I took him by the non-profit, deep in the heart of a community in desperate need of attention from businesses, government, healthcare professionals, investors, and community activists.
I showed him the area that housed our non-profit as well as the building itself. I explained to him the services it provides to those in need living within that community. Once he could see the building, its sign, and its parking lot, and after listening to my explanation, he understood.
“So you do this because you want to?” he asked.
I nodded, and I explained that it fed me to know that I could help other people with the gifts I’ve been given.
“Like the artists said, dad,” I replied, “you’ve got to use your gifts to help others. It’s then you know you’re on the right path.”
“It’s the same reason why I do the free fitness classes in the same community, to help people see themselves in a different, better light, and to show them their own healing and potential.”
He got it.
As we neared his home so I could drop him off, I realized that perhaps my explanation wasn’t so much a teaching lesson for my father as it was for me. It was the first time I had verbalized the feeling of “life giving” to myself. It was the first time I had acknowledged what I need out of this life to feel purposeful. I realized, perhaps more importantly, that I had already given myself permission to seek and live these connections. The non-profit building, the community, the rows of businesses in disrepair, and the conversation with my father all reminded me that I was already living a life giving life.
Giving yourself permission to seek out what you want is one thing. But taking a step back and realizing you’ve done it – to me, I cannot think of anything more life giving than that.
© 2016 Melanie Glover. All rights reserved.
First image above: Shutterstock.