The Joy of Receiving

Imagine a highly distraught, insecure, runny-nosed dark-skinned child. Highly introverted. Maladjusted within his own family. Very few friends because he changed schools every 2/3 years, due to his father’s transferable job. The butt of ridicule & elbow-digs through out his growing up years. Hating himself so much, that many times considered suicide as a honourable end to it all. All this continuing till he was in college! That child was Me and the story is MINE!

Licking my wounds, in perpetual self doubt, barely coping with external reality’s demands, suddenly the Ugly Duckling became a recipient of grace & support. Through The Joy of Receiving my life changed! किसी ने अपना बना के मुझको मुस्कुराना सिखा दिया, अँधेरे घर में किसी ने हस्के चिराग जैसे जला दिया. It is 49 years since I proposed to my childhood sweetheart. Her saying yes, her confidence in me, her acceptance turned the tide. Suddenly I was an achiever, liked by friends and family, having enough & more….all because someone considered me worthy of receiving & others were ready to heap bountifuls. I revelled in the Joy of Receiving. I understood that we see farther & longer because we stand on shoulders of giants who preceed us, have given us that higher perch through their munificence.

Albert Schweitzer puts it beautifully: “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” Giving & Receiving are two sides of the coin; and, Gratitude is the third dimension which makes up the coin of life!! Whom does one recall when you sit to balance the book? There are so many people and actions that made you what you are. It is the simple sharing of a sharpened pencil in a Geometry exam when your pencil fell & the point broke. It is a friend who gives you his tiffin box to share as you forgot yours & have no money for the Canteen. Your parents & family heaping books on you to read and learn. Your siblings and collegues asking for a favour, thereby building your competence & confidence. Whether in college or in industry, people coming forth to help complete your task despite seemingly unreachable timelines. Your bosses’ unflinching support of your proposals. हमने किस किस को पुकारा, वो कहानी फिर कभी as Ghulam Ali sings so eloquently.

If you see it in the correct perspective, everyone in your life has contributed to your growth, your learning, your success. Yes some may have done more & some less. But every experience has shaped you, whether success or failure, all were learning experiences which left their indelible mark. Have often seen myself as the proverbial putty… the mud on the Potters Wheel….being shaped by loving hands & deft fingers….whether I understood the grand design or no. The care & affection on the potters wheel….or even in the Potter’s tight slap…to shape & make me have been always around….developing & creating me. So whom do I thank for making me what I am? नाम आएगा तुम्हारा, वो कहानी फिर सही is what I can say to all my influencers. Where was I in this game of life? always the supplicant. Ever the receiver. The Beneficiary. देणाऱ्याचे हात हजारो दुबळी माझी झोळी !

The Giver, in his very stance, has an upper hand. The Receiver, in contrast, has his hands outstretched, The hands that bless and the hands that take are diffrent in their approach. The real giver however has overcome the arrogance of “I am the Giver”. This was best expressed in a doha I read from Tulsidas & Rahim. Tulsidas asks Rahim why as his hands rise up to give, corrrespondingly his eyes go down in humility. Rahim replies that the True Giver is some one else, & he is only a conduit. So where is the question of any ego in giving? The Recipient on the other hand must be full of humilty….in a way he realises that he is the CHOSEN ONE. There are so many contenders to very limited resources. And still if his bowl is being filled, he must realise the magic of being The Chosen One, the Joy of Receiving should suffuse his very being. But, sadly, do we celebrate while receiving? or is our attitude one of “entitlement” & “right”? Do we feel happy and privileged to receive? or do we rationalise that was due to me anyway & actually it is delayed coming to me?

See this story which brings out these nuances so well. A lovely little girl was holding two apples with both hands. Her mother came in and softly asked her little daughter with a smile: my sweetie, could you give your mom one of your two apples? The girl looked up at her mother for some seconds, then she suddenly took a quick bite on one apple, and then quickly on the other. The mom felt the smile on her face freeze. She tried hard not to reveal her disappointment. Then the little girl handed one of her bitten apples to her mother, and said: mommy, here you are. This is the sweeter one. This girl could well be the Shabari of Ramayan who offered half eaten berries to her Lord Rama. Do we have the grace like Rama to see the love behind the offering? or are we upset like the mother initially was at being offered half eaten fruit?

Often we misunderstand the Giver and question their intentionality. Actually we should be analysing our manner and attitude of receiving. To me, the Joy of Receiving always begins within ourselves. Ackowledging our being the Chosen One to receive. Celebrating this good turn the universe is doing us. Accepting unquestioningly whatever we receive. Being Content. Being Grateful. Being Humble. Keeping our hands outstretched to receive. And finally, being primed to give back in equal measure what we have been fortunate to receive. This to me is the essence of the Joy of Receiving!

लइ नाही लइ नाही मागणे देवI, I sing with Tukaram

Lord, Bless me, May my hands & my heart be always open to Recieve and acknowledge the contributions of all in my life: vikas the beggar

PS: To end, I quote Einstein: “A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depends on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the measure as I have received and am still receiving.”

PS2: this blog is dedicated to my neice who after reading my last piece on the Gift of Giving, asked me: But what about the other side of the story? How to recieve? Thanks dear for the basic question.