Giving of oneself even a little is the expression of true love. The divinely sweet beauty of love given, of tenderness shared, of sympathy known, ever remains untarnished under all circumstances. Adversity cannot dim its brilliance, nor age destroy its beauty. – Swami Chinmayananda
On a Sunday morning a couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were at the Pearson International Airport in Toronto just after 5 a.m. We were flying out to the US for a short vacation.
As I looked at the people around me, I noticed that most of us looked like we could have used a few more hours of sleep. In addition to the bags we were carrying or pulling along, many of us also had bags under our eyes and travel pillows under our arms.
As my husband and I approached the security checkpoint where our carry-on bags would be screened, I heard the loud and cheerful voice of the security officer ahead of us. Her job was to check travel documents, guide people to the right line for screening and remind us to empty our pockets, take out the electronic devices from our bags, remove any metal belts and so on.
Instead of merely instructing us on what we had to do, she had a big smile on her face and was happily ‘shooting’ good wishes and thoughts to the line of dreary-looking passengers. “Remember to take the coins out of your pockets and keep smiling!” she chirped. “You don’t get any poorer if you give others your smiles!” she beamed, as she carefully checked someone’s boarding pass. “Please make sure you have your travel documents ready for inspection!” she called out to the line of passengers. Then, talking to the passenger in front of her, “I always tell my children the way to be happy is to make others happy!” she said. She turned so others would hear: “Please make sure to remove your computers and any other electronic devices from your bags!” she said at the top of her voice.
Someone in the line asked her how she could be so perky so early in the morning. “I’ve been up since 2 am and I’m always like this!” she declared. Without missing a beat, she said to another passenger, “Please remove your belt, sir.’ She turned to the passengers who had gone ahead to the screening area and called out, “Have a wonderful day folks!”
Nothing could dampen her spirits. No sullen reactions from the sleepy passengers or tentative smiles could bring her down. It didn’t matter how people reacted. All she wanted to do was to cheer and uplift people as she did her job.
Like me, many others were touched by how genuinely sincere she was. We’re not accustomed to such an openly friendly reception at airports serious about security these days. I felt uplifted being near her and wanted to linger to hear what else she would say. But, of course, we had to continue on through the security area.
Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless – Mother Teresa
Passive and Active Love
In the plane, my thoughts went back to what I had experienced. I usually carry a book to read when I travel. I reached into my bag for it. It was no coincidence that I was guided to carry along a copy of a little book written by my Guru, Swami Chinmayananda called, “I Love You – Letters to Children.” It is a compilation of 12 of his letters to children, teaching them how to be active and loving participants in the lives of others. As I began to read it, I realized that my lessons on loving others had already begun with what I had experienced at the airport.
Gurudev (how I address my Guru), explains that we all want to be loved but we don’t always know, or want to learn how to give love. Most of the time, we passively wait for love to come to us. In waiting for love, we become ‘beggars’ for love. On the other hand, when we actively love others, we are in control of our own happiness.
When we give love to others, we have to be careful that our giving is in no way tarnished by any expectation or hope of any reward or recognition. That act of giving would not be true love; it would merely be a transaction. If this was the case, when we don’t get back what we expected, we feel hurt, angry or depressed. Why give others the power to control our happiness?
True giving is not for happiness but comes from happiness
There are so many ways we can actively give love: A few kind words, a helping hand for someone in need, a thoughtful gesture, giving a smile, being grateful and saying ’thank-you’, being patient and accepting of people and differing opinions, are all some simple ways.
The officer at the airport was a true giver of love. She spread love around her through her cheerful attitude and uplifting words. She is an example of how, even our daily duties can be colored with love. If we can resolve to become active givers of love, we will not only enrich the lives of others, but our own lives as well.
To live rightly is itself an art; to give love to others and thus, to enrich life around you by your own right living, is the subtlest of all known arts in the world. – Swami Chinmayananda
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