……….Above is a gift I received at a recent farmer’s market in Florida. The vendor, Shawn, makes various objects d’art out of dried royal palm leaves which are ubiquitous in Southwest Florida. He makes everything from drink koozies, to sunglasses, to bookmarks featuring quotes by eastern philosophers all out of abandoned palm leaves.
……….Shawn explained that he makes his products out materials which would otherwise be ignored or ground into mulch. He offers people things that they need, while also modeling a mindset and approach to consumption that is consistent with his values. He said that everything people need are given to us by Mother Nature. That human beings belong here, are made from here, and we can solve any sort of existential challenge with naturally-occurring resources in our environment. Human beings are resilient, endlessly creative, and drawn to being harmony with nature when given the chance to learn new information and habits. My jaw dropped and I said, “Wow! That’s fabulous. I believe that, too.” And I gave him my Bliss Revealed Chief Happiness Mentor business card.
………We chatted about the various philosophical influences which had spoken to our hearts as people visited Shawn’s table to purchase his handmade products. He thought it was cute that I teach ancient Indian philosophy and practices in a modern American lexicon. I thought it was cute that he was reading an arcane play from the European “enlightenment” era between customer visits to his table.
……….When he handed me the bookmark above, in the spirit of honoring my recent move from Oakland, California to the beaches of Southwest Florida, I said, “Lovely! So perfect. Thank you, how much do I owe you?” He responded, “No, it’s a gift.”
……….I hesitated, staring at the bookmark in my hands feeling awkward. For those of you in the My Bliss Path™ program, to put my response in context, as a warrior-hero, I was struggling with wanting to retain my comfort zone as the person who serves others, not the person who is being served. At the same time, as someone who does 2 on the enneagram with a 3 wing, I was working to be comfortable with him getting the “kind” label from our interaction, rather than me getting to earn that role.
……….My hesitation lasted only a moment. As I let go of those influences, I relaxed into Shawn’s kindness and looked back up at him. Then I said, “Thank you! Wow, I’m having trouble not feeling uncomfortable with you giving me a gift because we don’t know each other, but despite that I’m just going to say thank you and that your gift means a lot to me.” Then we both dissolved into laughter as often happens when people share their inner experience as part of celebrating their collective humanness.
……….Though, just between you and me Loved Ones, I did think to myself as I walked off, “I’m going to buy one of his products next time I come to this farmer’s market.” I smiled at that thought, accepting how my qualities manifest. Yes, it’s hard for me to accept gifts from people I’m not emotionally intimate with and that’s okay! I had not robotically reacted from the loss of my comfort zone by refusing the gift or otherwise going into a tit for tat behavioral pattern by instantly buying something I had not been previously considering. Walking away, I treasured myself and my qualities by finding it endearing that I’d committed to doing something nice for him later. Ah, personality qualities!
……….In the Blissverse, we work on learning ancient wisdom concepts people have used for millennia to see themselves clearly and also see others with compassion and empathy. These ancient wisdom concepts for identity replace the factors offered in modern culture for personal identity like ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, assets, or other external factors. We are never working to “fix” or fundamentally change who we are. We are working together to identify who we were born to be and accept ourselves. To maximize our positive qualities, minimize our negative qualities, and fall in love with ourselves and our lives. Sweet!
……….As an avid reader, I look forward to many years of Shawn’s bookmark reminding me of his purpose-driven business and his kindness to a stranger new to his community. And, how his thoughtful gift and my response brought us closer together, enjoying our shared humanity.
Unmani Saraswati, JD, LLM became the Chief Happiness Mentor of Bliss Revealed after a successful seventeen year career as a divorce mediator-attorney and law professor. A lifelong student of how to how to have a vibrant experience of life, she earned her credential as a Certified Massage Therapist from the Institute of Conscious Bodywork in 1997 and graduated from Trika Institute’s Seven-Year Tantrik Yoga Study Group Program in 2010. As a Chief Happiness Mentor, Unmani draws on her ongoing study of ancient wisdom concepts and life-skills, nineteen years of daily mediation practice, and her work supporting thousands of clients to bring out their best selves in the midst of crisis through mindfulness and education. She teaches the self-paced online program My Bliss Path™ and live streams with subscribing members of the Blissverse Locals community. Also, check out her free videos and blogs. To find out more about Unmani’s mission for everyone to have a Healthy Body, Strong Mind, and Happy Heart go to: https://linktr.ee/blissrevealed