Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Generosity

by Elizabeth

The other evening as I settled in for a class at the gym, a hand went up when the teacher asked if anyone was brand new to yoga. Young woman, looked like someone you'd hope your kid would have for a teacher, and one of the club's short foam mats under her first-timer knees. In case you've never taken yoga, I'll let you in on a secret: those short, thick gym mats, while great for cushioning your back and heiny for certain poses, are otherwise absolute crap for yoga. The woman needed a proper mat.

I've taken yoga for nearly seven years now (don't be too impressed; my reverse triangle is still one of the ugliest things you've ever seen), and I've seen newbies come and stay, come and go, and I much prefer the kind who come and stay. Decent chance this woman wasn't going to have a very good experience on a mat ideal for sit-ups, less so for downward facing dog. So I offered her mine. "I'll do it on the floor," I said. "Are you sure?" she asked. "Yup," I called over my shoulder, already on my way to join the rest of the class in child's pose to get started.

Class was hard that night. It's been a while since I took a class with no mat, and only ever when I forgot mine. My arms worked harder, my poses were tougher, and the day after I'd learn that my body was more sore than usual.

These are good things.

One of the members of this blog was recently gifted with a full manuscript read by a successful published author, and got a glowing response along with some excellent suggestions for improvement. The offer came nearly out of the blue and, as you can imagine, my fellow blogger was both stunned and grateful for the unexpected boon. The author certainly didn't have to do this, and we other five were equally impressed and awed by the generosity of this woman. And I believe every one of us took it as a lesson for when we, too, are published.

Be generous. Give to other writers. Remember what it was like when you were starting out and extend yourself. Everyone is new at this at some point, and nearly everyone who achieves success did so with help from other writers. When our turn comes, remember that. Remember that.

I offered my mat. A new yogi might continue to practice as a result of a better first class than she would otherwise have had. One day, that yoga practice might nurture her through sadness or illness or some other detour on her life's desired journey. I got a better workout, a warm feeling, and a yoga practice that had me thinking differently than usual, which is a great gift as far as I'm concerned.

Generosity rewards the giver. I believe that. I don't think it's the reason to be generous, but it sure makes it that much more fun.

A writer offered a read. The aspiring writer took away hope and joy and a freshened sense of purpose to perfect a manuscript and send it into the world with her hopes for it justified a little bit more. I hope the published author who took the time to read and savor the manuscript, too, got something out of this. I suspect that, at the very least, she was simply emulating justified kindnesses that had been paid her when she was in my friend's shoes. The reading and the critique weren't charity, and if I told you who had done the read, you would understand that she has no time to waste on chaff; this writer took the time because the manuscript was worth it. Nonetheless, it was generous and gracious and simply kind of her to take the time to not only read, but comment, and I hope karma kisses her back.

8 comments:

  1. Such a sweet story and a great message. I know I'm thankful every day for the writers around me who are so kind as to help me up one step at a time.

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  2. What a beautiful post and a great reminder. Thank you!

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  3. Elizabeth, it will come as no surprise to you that I love this post. ;-)

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  4. A wonderful thing to keep in mind for all of us, at all stages. But I am constantly amazed and surprised -- happily so -- at the things writers are willing to do for each other. It's a wonderful community (series of communities, really) that I'm proud to be a part of.

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  5. Cindy Keeling19 May, 2011

    What a beautiful, heart-opening post. Thank you, Elizabeth!

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  6. Wonderful piece. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

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  7. Thanks so much to all of you for reading this. I'm heartened to hear it resonated with you all.

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