Sunday, June 6, 2010
Twenty years ago I witnessed a scene that changed me forever. It occurred at a party at the home of a co-worker of Honeybuns. I think it was a Christmas party because I vaguely remember Poinsettias. The food, the flowers, the occasion was not particularly memorable. It was the host! He was fabulous! He taught me much!
His home was of course lovely, warm and inviting. His wife was smiling, serving her guests with grace. But it was Ken that I remember! I watched him make that gathering one of the best I've ever experienced.
He greeted each person at the door, called them by name and asked a personal question. How was the son doing? Had that person settled into their new home? Had the new car lived up to it's expectations? How was mom, was she adjusting to the new extended care facility? He KNEW something about each person attending! He'd actually done homework on such matters.
After inviting them in, making sure they were seated with a plate of food and a glass of something in their hands he moved on to the next guest. As the evening progressed I watched him take time to SIT next to each person there. He plopped right down and looked each on in the eye. Close up!
The questions started again. "Tell me about yourself" "What are you interested in these days?" "What do you like best about this town?" On and on it went. You could actually SEE each person light up as personal stories were shared. Laughter filled the air and smiles were everywhere.
I'm convinced it was NOT a "tool", not a "scheme", not just phony "chit chat". Ken was interested and those people responded.
And so I learned this: people need kindness. They NEED someone to show an interest in them, to ask about them, to acknowledge that they are important or at least recognized. They need someone to actually look them in the eye and inquire, "How are YOU?" Our host filled up the "value tank" of each person that evening.
As a result HE was greatly appreciated and loved. He is to this day one of the most respected and highly regarded men of that city. That one party was not a one time performance. Some would say he just exhibited good manners or exceptional hospitality. I think its more than that. His genuine interest in people was and is his lifestyle! He makes time for people always.
Our culture is steeped in self-absorption! The thought used to be "me first", now I truly believe, it is "me only". I can't begin to even guess why, how, or when this attitude became prevalent, but it is undeniably rampant.
It's evident on the highways, at the grocery stores lines, in marriages, in the board rooms and sadly at the family dinner table (IF the family ever sits at the dinner table!)
My best friend calls it selfishness. It is the heart that cries, "I want it my way, I want it now and I could care less about you." Unspoken sure, and most of the time denied but revealed by a critical spirit, a demand, or worse yet, silence.
I battle that type of self-centeredness and on those occasions when I win the battle I've been absolutely delighted to experience that old proverb "it truly is better to give than receive". A devotion to brighten another's day is a rip-roaring good time. Putting someone else first, thinking more highly of that other person than myself is a very rewarding way to live. It involves the death of "my way is the only way, my thinking is right and you are wrong", and "my schedule is of utmost importance".
I've witnessed Ken's type of openeness, selfless lifestyle in many others since that party and I greatly appreciate those people. I truly think they've got this thing called life worked out. People really are the most important things on this planet.
When you get right down to it, kindness is not all that difficult!
Maybe I'll try this on Honeybuns this evening!