I had a great experience this spring. It’s still with me so I am compelled to write. I spent time at the Writing From Your Soul -Hay House conference in downtown Denver with Wayne Dyer as the primary speaker. If you know him, you know that he believes in living a life that includes being in love with yourself and all others. He told us a story about forgetting that very thing of loving others, while traveling in another country. Instead of being grateful and giving a monetary tip to a man passing out towels (actually pieces of toilet paper) to wipe his hands, he walked out of the bathroom irritated. While walking back to the tour bus, he realized he had not fulfilled his purpose of not judging others. So he turned around, returned to the bathroom, hugged the man and gave him money. He also then told us that he hardly ever passes a homeless person without reaching out and giving them money. I of course thought, “that’s just great, you have an abundance of money and can do that.” However, I also know that we usually can give even when we think we can’t so I shoved that feeling of “lack” aside and absorbed what I could of the idea that love is our purpose.
At lunch time I walked down 16th street mall and ate my lunch outside. Across from me on the other side of the street a man played a guitar. I heard brief snippets of a song I now can’t remember the title of. As I ate I thought about Dyer’s stories and words. I decided I would walk over and give the man money. I just felt I needed to heed my own belief system and whether it made me uncomfortable or not, I needed to step up in some small way.
Uncertain of myself and my own sense of judgement, I pulled out some money and walked over to the man who at this point had stood up and had his back to me. I stood for a second, waiting on him to turn thinking of an escape route but sucked it up and said, “Excuse me.” He turned and looked at me but said nothing. I then said, “Would you do me a favor and play that song again. I heard bits of it while I was having lunch but I’d like to hear it again, if you’re not tired of playing it?” With that he smiled. Teeth were missing. I noticed the grime pressed into the skin of his hands and under his fingernails. I saw the shabby detail of his clothing. And then I heard the energy in his voice as he said, “I never tire of that song. I’ll be happy to play for you.” Something in me changed in that moment. This was a man, not just a poor homeless soul, or someone with bad luck that needed me to feel sorry for him. This was a man. He needed nothing from me save love, real love, unconditional love. I was the one missing something. I needed more than he, and he gave it.
As he finished playing and singing. I put my hands together in that way Eastern cultures do, praying hands, and thanked him. I said, “You have made my day.” He looked me in the eye and said “No, no. You have made my day, not because of that,” pointing to the hat with the collected money. ” but because of this,” and he moved his hand from me to him in a gesture of our rapport together. He then took my hand and squeezed it and said, “Thank you.”
I stole away, my eyes welling with unspilled tears. At that moment I understood love, the unconditional kind that has no expectation. He gave that to me, that man that I intended to feel sorry for. I hoped I was able to return that favor because as I walked back to my conference I felt nothing but joy. I was blessed by someone whom I assumed needed me. He did not. I needed him. I will look for him again when I am in Denver but I know I don’t need to find him. I need to look for myself and remember love and share it as I can.