They say that giving is greater than receiving. I agree with this. However, there’s more than one way to receive. This has been the subject of much consideration over the years for me. It’s a difficult topic to articulate, but this is how I see it playing out in my life.
By the time I was 22, I had experienced some not so good things but, for the most part, my life had been full of good things. For example, I had a Certificate that confirmed I’d passed my final year of school with a score most of my teachers could not believe and certainly had not forecast.
I had my compulsory army training behind me and had escaped any serious engagement during that time. For my 21st birthday, I’d received a car of my own – a brand new shiny blue and white Mini. And ahead of me was a university degree just needing a bit of work to achieve.
Looking back, I was in a pretty good place. Or, I should have been. But emotionally I was not happy. In fact, I was, in hindsight, suffering from a state of dissatisfaction about my prospects. The truth is, I was running around with no destination in mind. I had no purpose.
But then I met a girl who intrigued me.
A fair amount of this intrigue was based on one fundamental difference between us. In her there was a sense of gratitude I had never witnessed in anyone before.
She was good looking, but not showy. She was intelligent, but not academic. She was on a scholarship but made her own clothes. She was interested in what I had to say, but apparently not that interested in me. Certainly not as interested as I was in her.There was a joyfulness about her that didn’t vary from one day or week to another.
And she is still the most balanced and joyful person I know. I think her secret is she takes delight in the simplest of things. For example, I have never seen anyone who gets more joy out of decorating the Christmas tree. Every year without fail in the forty nine Christmases we have spent together.
She has always reverted to that childlike wonder when the tree is decked out and the lights go on. It’s not about the gifts, but, for her, more about the sentiments.
Joy is also found in abundance by baking a batch of biscuits, picking zucchinis she’s grown herself, or winning seventeen dollars in the office sweep for the Melbourne Cup, even though she doesn’t even remember the name of the horse she has drawn.
These things may seem so inconsequential, and many people may find it all too naïve, but it captivates me, even today, fifty years after first meeting her.
Of course the big things in life, like relationships, a new born baby, a job promotion someone else has received, or an overseas trip a friend has taken, are treated with wide-eyed enthusiasm. Nobody is more excited about these things than Gaynor.
These are big things in anyone’s life, but she’s taught me over the years that it’s the little things we should focus on more, because there are so many more of them.
So, if you want more joy in your life, aim lower. Be grateful for everything – the big things and the small.
PS. Thank you Gaynor for the lesson. I’m a much happier person these days.