Gratitude: What We Give, What We Get.
This past weekend I invited over one of the subcontractors who worked on our remodel project. He was part of the demo team, the lead framer and after I took over the job, he stepped up, broadened his scope, and was invaluable to me. It was my intention when the house was finished to have a gathering for all the guys who worked on the job. But after living with up to eighteen workers at my house for the better part of three years, I needed a breather. (To this day, I rarely have anyone over and warn people if they stop by unexpectedly, make sure to wear ratty clothes. I might just tag them with a paint ball.)
Since the framer was celebrating a milestone birthday, I thought this might be a good time to lower my guard and have a small get together. Boy I’m glad I did.
While sitting out on the side porch, enjoying the Neapolitan pizza we just made in our brick oven–the 2500 lb. oven he and his crew helped unload off a semi-trailer and then steered the behemoth a block and up a dirt driveway– when he looked over at me and said the most delightful thing. “It’s rare for me to see a house when it’s finished. Once the framing is done, we pack our nail bags and move on. I always have the intention of going back afterward, but it never seems to happen. I’m so delighted to see how my infrastructure gets covered and the design process unfolds.”
I smiled back at him, never really considering that guys who work on your home thought about the project after they left. “But there’s something else,” he said. “Something more important than how the final product turned out.” He looked at me, steel eyes clear and steady. “The importance of relationships. Truly connecting with other people.” His unwavering gaze narrowed. “I learned that from you.”
A surge of heat rushed through my body, the way it does when I step outside on a hot Oklahoma summer day. My hand flew over my heart. Every inch of my skin tingled with energy, gratitude, compassion–all the sensations I feel when on the receiving end of a genuine compliment.
“The way you treated everyone, me, like we mattered. With the upmost courtesy and respect. It changed me,” he said.
A lump choked in my throat.
This is it. I thought. Above all else. Better than the rush experienced while signing books at a release party, dressing up in a great gown for a gala, even more satisfying than flying a jet. (A really high bar for me, by the way. Not much tops the buzz I get in a jet.) Although I had unknowingly helped him, he helped me too. Not only did he back me up on the job but also coached me to conquer my fear of heights. This is how it’s suppose to work. Each of us helping each other. The essence of being human.
Maybe if instead of competing, measuring, trying to impress, or judging (ie. Compared to this person, well, I’m not so bad.) we choose the mindset of every individual who comes into our lives is not just a teacher but a student. Ourselves included.
With this approach, I suspect we would get that sense of purpose, belonging, connection, we inherently seek. Realizing that all of us are the same, beautiful, dynamic, perfect, vibrant creatures with unique attributes to contribute during our time on planet earth. Go ahead, go out, relax, be open and see how far you can go. The sky’s the limit. Perhaps even the universe.
EL Chappel author of Spirit Dance/Storm Makers/Risk
The gift of connection. Something that costs nothing and we all have the ability to give.
Relationships are soul builders and when we finish our journey, likely the only thing we take with us.
aka The Glamorous Wife