A few weeks ago, I was on my way to meet a friend for lunch. I usually take the bus downtown, because parking prices are astronomical and it’s an easy door-to-door trip. It was drizzling, but not pouring buckets; Vancouver’s weather has been downright depressing lately.
I like taking the bus, because I can generally just relax and think. Some of my greatest inspirations have arisen as I let my mind wander, looking out the window and watching the world go by.
This day, I had been pondering the concept of appreciation, as a function of receiving love.
When we are kids, we are often taught the lesson that it is better to give than receive. Personally, I sucked up that information and ran with it. I became a huge people-pleaser.
No one tells us, though, that it’s perfectly okay and natural to want to receive. We’re taught that it’s selfish to want more than we give.
We’re told “give because you want to give, not because you want to receive anything back.” The implication is that the giving should feed you naturally, but that you can’t expect to rely on receiving anything back in return. Life is not a quid-pro-quo transaction.
When we apply this belief to love, however, the theory breaks down. Love energy going out without being replenished depletes the giver. We try to convince ourselves that we can be self-sustaining individual robot machines, not needing anything from anyone, but that is a lie we tell to make ourselves feel better for being in the state of wanting love; we put ourselves into denial for survival’s sake.
Human beings are social animals. We thrive on loving and supporting one another.
We all want to be appreciated deep down. To feel important and significant to someone. To feel like there’s something about us that is special. To know that who we are is not just accepted and tolerated, but embraced and recognized as worthy.
As I grew older, I struggled with this, because I often felt taken advantage of. I’d give and give, and would rarely feel appreciated. But because my belief was “receiving = selfish,” even if someone did want to show appreciation or kindness to me, I wouldn’t feel comfortable accepting it or would be so grateful that it seemed like I was giving out gold stars for normal civility.
What I know now, is that love must be balanced. It isn’t just one party giving, and the other receiving. It is more like a constantly moving circuit between them.
Appreciation is the conduit, for love can’t move back and forth without it. I appreciate you, you receive that appreciation and show appreciation for me, and that appreciation generates more appreciation, etc.
Appreciation feels like love.
Anyway, this is where my mind was going (I know I’m weird; usually I just think about my shopping list — this was a particularly deep day).
I noticed a young mother and her child got on the bus, and everyone made room for the stroller. An older woman was sitting on the bench across from them, cooing at the child. She reached into her bag and pulled out a Ziplock baggie of notes.
She reached over to the mother and said, “You have such a lovely child. Please give her a hug from me.” And then proceeded to pull out one of her notes which showed two cuddly bears embracing each other in friendship, with the word “Hug!” printed on top.
The mother was somewhat surprised, but smiled and took the picture with a “thank you” and showed it to her child, who seemed enthralled with it.
The woman turned to her side and offered one to the people sitting next to her “Would you like a hug?”
I started smiling. She noticed me and said, “That lady is smiling. She needs a hug too. Would you pass her this hug?” And the note was passed along to me.
“Would you like a hug?” she repeated to everyone in her vicinity. Even though everyone seemed a bit surprised, they all accepted a hug.
The woman started upping her game. She couldn’t reach everyone on the bus, so she started passing the hugs along. The caveat was that everyone had to keep a hug, and pass on another. You couldn’t just pass the hug you received onto someone else — you had to take it for yourself and then pass a second one along.
Pretty soon most of the people on the bus had a hug. You could tell that the mood was lighter and full of appreciation. The lady was thrilled that she had given out her hugs.
As we were crossing over the bridge, I almost started crying. But then I stopped and giggled and said to myself, “If I see a rainbow right now, I’ll sh*t my pants.”
Not two seconds later, I saw this:
I laughed and laughed. Synchronicity at its finest.
The Universe reinforcing my thoughts on appreciation and love.
I had to get off the crowded bus and went out the back door — but when I thought back on it I wish I had gone back and give that lady a real hug.
Let’s continue to show appreciation for each other, my friends.
Keep shining the insight light,
PS: If you appreciate this post, please share it. I would love for the lady on the bus to have her hug story spread around, in appreciation for her kindness and generous heart.