The scene takes place in my friend’s shop in the provinces. It’s mid-August, and she’s speaking on the phone to a woman whose fridge won’t close properly while gesturing to a customer that she won’t be a minute.
She feels sorry for the woman on the other end of the phone who has a broken fridge door in 40°C heat, and offers to send a technician in two days’ time between previously booked appointments in the same neighbouring village.
When she hangs up, the man in the shop – a pensioner who is a regular customer – apologises for having eavesdropped on the conversation and offers to go and see the woman in question as he is going shopping in the village that same afternoon. He says he will take his toolbox with him and make himself useful – free of charge.
My friend calls the woman back – and offers her the services of the kind pensioner!
My friend subsequently found out that the unofficial repairman went to the woman’s house that day at 2 o’clock– she was also a pensioner – and she was so taken by the man’s initiative that she’d gone and signed up with a charity to offer her dressmaking services.
Making yourself useful, letting people know about it and listening to others are some of the many things I tend to forget when I’m glued to my smartphone.
This anecdote reminds me that life isn’t just a job description, but an infinite possibility of being and feeling useful.
What about you? How can you be useful – before or after retirement?
At a formal dinner, people from all backgrounds are present: those who like to strut their stuff, flashing their jewellery and clothes. Those who would like to disappear in the folds of the tablecloth because they really don’t feel comfortable, or those who don’t really take any notice of what’s going on and just enjoy themselves and chat away, totally oblivious to everything around them.
The host, a charismatic kindly man observes all the different guests. One guest who is particularly uncomfortable in this opulent setting takes the finger bowl and lifts it to his lips. Another person in a group of show-off (look-at-me) types watches the man with a sneer. The host takes his own finger bowl and proposes a toast to the gathering.
The people in the show-off (or vain) group are forced to copy their host, even though they are horrified by the breach of etiquette. The others just laugh and clink bowls, which makes the atmosphere feel more relaxed.
The host had nothing to gain from his friendly gesture, apart from the satisfaction of having stopped one of his guests being humiliated.
What about you? How have you got someone out of tricky situation with flair?
I gaze in greedy wonder at the window of a famous chocolate shop.
I weigh up the pros and cons, the pleasure
and the expense and decide that being left at home by myself for ten days means
I really deserve some consolation in the form of chocolate.
Back home, I get ready to go and spend the
weekend with some friends. What should I take them? A bottle of wine … or maybe
Feeling something akin to sorrow, I decide
that the chocolates are more likely to go down well with everyone.
As indeed they did. After every meal, the
box was passed from one person to the next, everybody indulging in the pleasure
and saying how good they were.
I was delighted and not a little ashamed of
ever having thought of keeping the box all to myself.
My friends’ enjoyment greatly added to my
own pleasure at tasting those chocolates.
What about you? What could you share to
multiply the pleasure it gives?
We all have at least one
area in which we excel. For some people it’s cooking, for others, computers. My
own area of expertise lies in teaching.
Then there are the other
The ‘4 Toltec agreements’
invite us to ‘always do our best’. To give what we are capable of
Am I an expert in electrical
work? – No, but I know how to put in a terminal block and connect the right
wires without getting electrocuted.
Am I an expert in car
mechanics? – No, but I know how to change a wheel, check the oil, replace a
fuse or put more screen wash in.
In short, I do my BEST in
these areas as well.
What about you? What other
area could you venture into, to do your best?
One day, so the legend goes,
there was a huge fire in the forest. All the terrified animals watched the
disaster unfold, powerless. Only the little hummingbird bustled about, going to
fetch a few drops of water in his beak and throw them on the fire.
After a while, the
armadillo, who was irritated by this ridiculous performance, said to him,
“Are you mad, Hummingbird?
Do you really think you will put the fire out with those drops of water?”
The hummingbird replied, “I
know, but I have to do my bit.”
The legend tells how every
animal then felt they too should ‘do their bit’, each in their own way, and the
forest was saved.
What about you? Do you do