And I Gave Them Away...
The store manager came up to greet and welcome me, happy that I still wanted to gift his customers with free cookbooks after the sourness of the previous attempt.
Scott said to the manager, "Don't I know you from somewhere?" As Scott does not ordinarily go to the Co-op, we all just shrugged with that funny feeling that we were missing something. A few minutes later, as I walked with the manager, Dan, I learned that he had also returned to the Sacramento area after living in Sedona. We further discovered that we have several mutual friends in Sedona, and made arrangements to do a catch up when Scott and I return from a Sedona holiday to visit our soul family of friends in a couple of weeks.
After parting company with Dan, I walked toward the produce aisle assuming there might be a cook or two there as a good portion of the vegetables need some kind of cooking to become edible. I approached a woman in her 60's named Mary. I offered her a book. She looked at me somewhat suspiciously, not willing to buy into what I was putting out there. When I explained further it was just a gift, she stared at me in the eyes and turned quite serious."Why would you do this?" she asked. I told her I enjoyed it. She asked if she could give me a donation to which I politely refused saying "Seriously, it's a gift, I don't want payment." She continued looking into my eyes for something that would betray my true intentions, then slowly held her hand out to take a book. I wished her Happy Holidays, just in case she was Jewish (though my orientation was somewhat obvious as I was wearing a Santa hat) and she returned the greeting saying "Merry Christmas" with an easing, but not eradicated, air of disbelief, still looking into my eyes. After about 10 minutes she sweetly and shyly came up to me and said "I feel so honored at receiving this gift, would you mind signing the book for me?"
I was so taken back that such a simple offering was apparently such an unfamiliar occurance for this woman. What shapes our sense of mistrust and our sense of worthiness to make a simple act so profound?
Soon after, I approached a rolly-polly African-American woman. As she began to understand what I was offering she asked if she could hug me. I said I would be delighted because I could tell she would be a magnificent hugger - which she was. She said, "I want to thank you for interrupting my thoughts as I was walking along, it makes my heart feel good that you did that. I was in another world entirely. Now I'm here talking with you!"
Shortly after this, a young woman nearly cried telling me her she was a student with no money and that her mother grew vegetables and loved to cook them. But, she said, she had no money for a Christmas gift and had resorted to cleaning friend's homes for sustenance. Now, she said, she had a gift for her mother! I started getting teared up along with her.
Scott and I gave away nearly 50 books, and he too felt an incredible sense of connection with everyone we encountered. Endorphins were flowing all around.
My "take away" was that opportunities to connect with strangers in a meaningful way are as precious as diamonds, and sometimes we have to persist past our own egos and agendas to create the opportunity. I'm glad I revisited the Manic Holiday Give Away!