Giving Roses [6/7]

The rose is red, the violet’s blue,

The honey’s sweet, and so are you.

The 6th virtue to an enlightened life is to selflessly love others.

I used to believe that my love for others, my indispensable loyalty to a select few people, stemmed from an inherent selfless character. I always buy souvenirs for them whenever my family and I went on holiday abroad. Well, technically, my parents bought those items with their money. But it’s the thought that counts, right?

Anyway, I would buy at least a unique key chain or fridge magnet with words like “London”, “Seoul”, “Paris”, “California” or “Krabi” written on those things that they may or may not use. That is one of the few ways I knew how to show my appreciation for the friendship.

In retrospect, however, I was far from selfless. I don’t think I even realised it back then. But truth be told, in a way, I was attempting to “buy” their favour for my sake so that I feel good or that I could grab hold of my fantasy of lifelong friendship, the kind you see in Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverley Place or That’s So Raven.

Yes, I did watch a lot of Disney series and my perception might have been influenced by them. But at least, I was convinced to think that long-lasting friendship is possible.

The point is that even though I did pour my love unlimitedly, it was more out of selfishness rather than not. I gave too many things and too little intangible, pertinent values. What I mean is that I did not contribute to their growth by the giving of advice, opinions, care etc, as much as they did to mine.

And this is the biggest reason of the gradual lack of cultivated, meaningful friendship over time. I realise that now. I might have realised it a bit too late, but then again, nothing is too late if you are still alive.

Just by spending a day with a group of people who value others a tad bit more than themselves had driven me to strip off of my selfish coat. Once bare and exposed, I realised how much I have got to give.

I start small, of course. I made a conscious effort, which soon became a habit, to maintain a default smile on my face so that as I walk to and from lectures, anyone who chanced a peek at my face could receive the warmth I genuinely present. And it is always nice to receive one warm smile back.

Here in the UK (or at least in Durham), daily acts of kindness are quite common. For example, people do hold the door for me when they see me coming from behind even if I am still 25 feet away, in which case I would quicken my pace and say a breathy “thank you”. The cashiers and cleaners would include the words “pet” and “love” in conversations. Shopkeepers would approach me in the midst of deciding which type of cashew nuts to buy (roasted and salted or no salt but with raisins) and ask whether I am alright and need any help. Those little things brighten my day even more.

I also realise that it is important to take the time to actually cultivate richer relationships, as I have learnt from my mistake. And so in these past months, I have been asking or asked by those I value to go to town for coffee or lunch during some weekends. And within those couple of hours, we would just talk and get to know each other deeper. This time, I know better to contribute my thoughts and ideas constructively and in a way that may benefit them. If not, well, I have at least tried.

I believe that loving others without any ulterior motives, at first, is one of the quickest and easiest ways to feel happy and content. As is the case with feelings, love is transient. So it has to be maintained by active and beneficial contributions. I now understand that my life can most certainly reach higher dimensions if I make it my mission to elevate the lives of others in any way I possibly can.

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