“Our actions are like ships which we may watch set out to sea, and not know when or with what cargo they will return to port.” ― Iris Murdoch, The Bell
At the end of the day, the Golden Rule is called the Golden Rule for a reason – do unto others as you would have done to you. – Chad Kroeger
I was in a bad mood. Back in those days I was always in a bad mood. I walked into the office and saw “Donna’ sitting at her desk. I leaned into her cubicle and said. “Hey, do you have those deposits done yet.”
Without turning to me or saying a word, she handed me a folder that contained the documents that I was asking for. I turned and walked out without a “thank you” or a “go to hell.”
I was about twenty feet down the hallway when I heard footsteps coming behind me and fast. A hand touched my elbow and I spun around. It was the girl that I was dating at the time. She’d witnessed the last exchange. She said, “”What do you think you’re doing?”
“What do you mean?”
“Back there with “Donna.””
“Taking care of business. That’s what I do. Take care of business.”
“That was completely wrong.”
“What do you mean?” I was genuinely perplexed.
“In my culture we would never have an encounter like that. You walk in. You say hello. You ask after the person’s health and family. And then you take care of business. “Donna’s” father just had a heart attack and you didn’t even bother to ask. You have to consider people’s feelings!”
It was like a slap in the face. Now those of you who know me know that I am the very definition of being socially awkward. I have gotten better over these last fifteen years, but I’ll never be the belle of the ball. My eyes were opened that day, so much so that I was forever changed by the encounter. The following day I went back into that office to see “Donna.”
“Hi Donna, I heard about your dad. Is he doing okay?”
She looked at me like I had just stepped off a spaceship, complete with green skin and antennae. “Yeah. thanks for asking.”
I walked out of there feeling pretty good about myself. I carried that feeling until the following day, when another coworker told me a funny story. “So, Donna said that you were really nice to her yesterday.” I smiled. “She also said you were faking it.” I was flabbergasted. It would have been the easiest thing in the world for me to blame her for being harsh and unforgiving, but indeed it was I who’d built up these bad feelings in her over the years. She was perfectly justified. My negative energy had killed any chance that we ever had to be friends.
I was bitten by reciprocity.
I was a raving lunatic back in those days. I was working too much, drinking too much and was dumped by the aforementioned girlfriend. The icing on the cake was when I got fired from the job for “just not caring” anymore. I was just not caring to the tune of 65 hours per week. In retrospect it was one of the best days of my life. I moved on through a succession of General Manager jobs in restaurants. With each new job I got a little bit softer, a little more empathetic. Finally, after twelve years of mind-numbing soul-crushing work. I was ejecting into the real world like Neo being unplugged from the Matrix for the first time.
I took that “Donna” lesson with me.
I’ve become the antithesis of that raving lunatic, so much so that my most recent girlfriend said, “No one could be that happy all the time.”
To set the record straight, she was right, I am not that happy all the time. But I am that cheerful all of the time. I choose to be cheerful because I’ve noticed that when I’m in a good mood it puts everyone else in a good mood, which in turn makes me happy.And it also allows me to keep any bad vibrations at bay.
I wrap my arms around reciprocity.
We all have the ability to be creators. We create every encounter that we have with another human being. We can shape it into a thing of beauty or make it as ugly as we want. If I spend 15 seconds with a complete stranger, does it cost me anything more to make it a beautiful 15 seconds? Heck no! In fact, I can gain spiritual currency in every exchange. When I get a smile out of the deal, I win. When someone says thank you, I win. When someone gains some satisfaction, I win. If I do the right thing in every situation, I always win.
This is my Law of Reciprocity.
Do something beautiful without expectation, it will bounce right back at you.
Do something evil and spiteful, be prepared for the whipping post.
Karma gonna get you, baby.
I often think back to that day 15 years ago and the lesson that I learned. It would have cost me nothing to do the right thing, yet I chose to “take care of business.” Now I hope that everyone throws their arms around Reciprocity. All these good vibrations bouncing around make the world a kinder gentler place.
Namaste, Your Brother T