A few years ago, I was generous with a friend who wanted to open a restaurant in London, Ontario. Tonight I sat in that restaurant as a guest of him and his wife. Their attitude seems clear: “You’ll never pay for a meal here.”
As couples came in for dinner, I listened to their conversations blending. It was a symphony of sounds and smiles. The dream had come true, and my friend was grateful. So … I had a delicious vegetarian pizza, a generous slice of Turtle cheesecake and two beer. Just a bit too full at the end, and very happy.
I felt twinges of guilt in accepting a free meal but they soon floated away. The gift I gave tonight was enjoying conversation with my friends and smiling as the food entered me. The gift was received. My willingness to not pay was received. My friends were also allowed to give.
Also a few years ago, I wanted to go to the entire Rogers Cup tennis tournament in Toronto – nine days of inspired matches between the best women players in the world. I bought a VIP package, with perks such as free parking and access to an air-conditioned lounge with comfy couches. I got to go places and do things that most spectators couldn’t. Then too I felt the prodding of guilt. That time the floating away took longer than tonight but it also chose to leave. Happy then and happy now.
I’m no better than the next person. Still, when benefits come my way I choose to embrace them. I’m not turning my back on a lovely part of life. I’m here to experience the whole tapestry.