“Until we can receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.”
— Brené Brown
— Brené Brown
While attending the University of Washington in Seattle almost 50 years ago, I volunteered at an inner-city boys’ club. Located in an old two-story building in a poorer part of Seattle, the club provided a basketball court on the first floor. I oversaw the quieter games, like jigsaw puzzles, on the second floor.
At that time, my hair was long and light brown, almost blonde. Gradually, a few of the shy boys would call me “Princess” because my hair was unusual to them and reminded them of fairy tales they may have seen or heard about. We created a fantasy world where they could be anything they wanted – knights, kings, princes, etc. We laughed and had great fun – bringing out the Little Kid in each of us.
One time, the club manager admonished us for making too much noise. The kids – and I – immediately shut down; all our Little Kids went into hiding. After the manager left, I gathered the kids and explained that we were still kings, knights, princes, and a princess, but we were in the Land of Quiet. This was our special place that no one else knew about because we kept it secret by being quiet. Slowly, the light within each child – and myself – returned and our Little Kids played, having even more fun because no one knew about our secret fantasy world.
As I was walking to the bus stop one evening, a boy, perhaps 12 years old, started walking with me. Recognizing him as the “bad kid” who had been banned from the boys’ club because he smoked, carried knives and other weapons, and got into trouble with others, I smiled at him and did not find any fear of him within me.
As I walked on the sidewalk, the boy walked on the tops of the stone “fences” that marked the boundaries of each row house’s front “yard.” When his route was longer than mine, he asked me to “Go Slow” so we could keep pace with each other. That night, I saw a completely different child – one who apparently was on his own in this world, coping as best he could, and at that point only wanting someone to “Go Slow” so he could be with them. I only met him once, but that encounter has stayed with me for almost 50 years. I often wonder what happened to him – did he get the help he sought?
Obviously, encounters are not always that simple – but it does start with acknowledging that we all are One with the Universe, no exceptions. From there, we see the Soul/Spirit/Source within everyone we meet by looking beyond the body-suit and ignoring the judgment of others. We let our gut reaction – rather than the brain linked to the cultural biases to which we have been exposed – determine our safety at that moment. Recognize the difference between your gut thoughts, feelings, and warnings and those that are part of group consciousness perpetuated by mistrust and fear. Do you own thinking, unswayed by the biases, prejudices, and judgments of others.
There are many ways to cope with the life you are given. Judgments arise over the slightest deviation from the social standard of “normal” or “proper” behavior. How many other people have been judged for their chosen way of coping? How many difficult lives could have been turned around by someone taking the time to “Go Slow” and seeing the Little Kid within them?
My wish for you is that someone will choose to “Go Slow” when you need it – and that you will choose to “Go Slow” for another when he/she needs it. We are all One with the Universe, and helping others is helping ourselves as well.