"In My Meditation Garden"
With the arrival of the cold and flu season, I've noticed that a number of public service announcements have been issued advising people on how to protect themselves from getting sick. Recently I watched a nurse addressing a classroom of elementary school kids, teaching them how to properly cover their mouths when they sneezed. She showed them how, without taking the proper precautions, one little sneeze can send out millions of tiny germs into the atmosphere infecting everyone around you.
As I watched that nurse's demonstration about "spreading disease," I called to mind a recent trip I took to a nearby Costco store. Costco: the "super" market of "supermarkets," the great cathedral of consumerism where you can buy anything your heart desires, a giant warehouse in which clothing is stacked up in piles on tables, where there are aisles of food right alongside other aisles where you can buy a vacuum cleaner, power tools or tires for your car. Most of the time I try to avoid going to this store, the other day I remembered why.
After barely finding a place to park my car in the gigantic "stadium-size" parking lot, I finally made my way into the store. There are always a lot of people there, but the other day it seemed like the crowds were bigger than ever. But when I walked into that store something seemed different to me - more than the hordes of people jostling this way and that in order to make their way through the overcrowded aisles, I could physically feel a sense of tension and stress that seemed to permeate the atmosphere. So I started to pay attention to what was happening.
As I carefully observed my fellow shoppers I began to notice an awful lot of rude behavior going on. Some people were deliberately crashing their carts into others to get them to move along, other people were elbowing their way to counters of the "free samples" of food that were being offered. I even heard some shoppers utter a few nasty curses against people who were getting in the way.
The air was being "infected" by rudeness and it seemed to be spreading everywhere like an unprotected sneeze. So I intentionally decided that I would do my best to engage in acts of kindness as an antidote to the highly infectious spread of rudeness.
I made a deliberate effort to hold doors open for people, lots of smiles, I even volunteered to help someone get an item from a higher self that she wasn't able to reach on her own.
While I have no definitive proof that my little act of kindness made much of a difference in that rather toxic atmosphere, I know for a fact that the people whom I touched appreciated my efforts - a smile always has a way of soliciting a smile in return. Besides, if rudeness is so highly infectious, why can't kindness be the same?
The Buddha taught:
Drop by drop is the water pot filled.
Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little,
fills himself with good.
It seems to me that we always have choices in the way we lead our everyday lives. We can choose to drop a bit of kindness and compassion on the world in which we live or we can choose to infect it with self-centered rudeness.
Every drop counts.