Life is a classroom. And every experience we have can teach us something about the world we live in. One of the biggest lessons I’ve had the opportunity to observe this month has been about graciousness and appreciation. I’ll start by telling you about an experience I recently had with my niece and the lesson I gleaned from it...
A few weeks ago (shortly before the Black Women’s Day of Meditation holiday), I had the pleasure of staying with my very pregnant sister for a few days. She was getting closer and closer to her due date and aside from throwing her baby shower, I also took it upon myself to help her do a deep clean on her house and get the baby’s bedroom in order. My partner in crime was my thirteen year old niece (we’ll call her “K”) - a hilariously wisecracking - and sometimes moody - teenager who wanted nothing more than to play on her phone all day. Getting K to help me was, at times, harder than actually getting things done myself. But when she worked with me, things moved along swimmingly and I wanted nothing more than to kiss her chubby cheeks and reward her for her services - which I did, as much as I could.
Now when I visit home, I always bring a little cash - a few fives and tens - to randomly hand out to my nieces and nephews. Sometimes I hide the money in weird places to surprise them, etc. So this week, I had a little extra money in my pocket in full preparation to reward K handsomely for helping me (and therefore her mother) around the house. Considering she had a new sibling on the way, I imagined that it would feel good for her to get a bit of something to show her how much she was appreciated and loved. I also wanted her to see how beneficial it is when we all work together to help each other. $100 should do it, I told myself.
So for the week, we worked. I hauled tables and chairs, dressers and boxes from one room to the next. Scrubbed, cleaned and “saged." Made runs to UHaul and Salvation Army and Home Depot to drop things off, pick things up and move things around. K was beside me the entire time, helping when she could but also being very “teenager-y” (I’ll spare you the details) and slowing me down.
Regardless, the week ended on a great note. I’d finished everything I set out to do and was preparing to fly back to the West Coast when I remembered that I wanted to give my niece her money. In an effort to get her to leave the room so I could retrieve the funds, I asked her to do me a small favor and let her rambunctious puppy outside to pee. This, surprisingly, proved too much for my niece. She groaned and complained as the anxious pup ran back and forth. I asked again and again, hinting that it would be in her best favor to do so. Still nothing. In other words, K wasn’t budging and I couldn’t get her to leave the room so I could surprise her with the money she’d worked so hard for. And the worst part was that the more she complained, the more my enthusiasm for giving her the money evaporated until I no longer cared to give it to her in the dramatic fashion I’d initially planned. In fact, I didn’t want to give it to her at all. So rather than do the big surprise I was planning, I dug into my pocket and gave her whatever I had on me.
It was $40.
She hugged me tightly, smiling from ear to ear. I was happy to give her this money but felt a little saddened because deep down inside I knew she’d screwed herself out of the full amount and in the words of Tyra Banks, "I was rooting for [her]… we were ALL rooting for [her]!”
Now I’m not telling this story about my lovely niece in order to criticize her. She’s a really great kid and anyone with teenagers knows that they can be (to put it nicely) horrible, lol. There will also be many more opportunities in the future for me to shell out money to her and her thousands of cousins. I tell this story to say that my niece - in this anecdote - is every single one of us. And the universe is the exhausted auntie who is conspiring to love on us and give us what we’ve asked for (and more) if we would only get out of our own way.
The Universe is ALWAYS Conspiring in our Favor
That’s right, everyONE and everyTHING is in on this grand conspiracy. You are sharper because of the experiences in your life that challenged you. You are smarter. More empathetic. And when you flow along in the direction of the universe, you are rewarded… handsomely.
Now for the record, “flowing in the direction of the universe” is NOT about blind obedience. Many religions and belief systems promote rigid conformity in exchange for reward but you are not under any obligation to blindly obey any person on this planet (just like my niece isn’t under any obligation to blindly obey my every word.) Additionally, if you are ONLY doing it to be rewarded, you’re missing the point entirely. What I mean by flowing in the direction of the universe is being "a helper."
What I could’ve used from my niece - and what I suspect the Universe could use from all of us - is a bit of assistance. The times that my niece helped me the most were when she voluntarily did little things like grabbing me a cup of water to drink after I’d lifted heavy boxes. Or cleared my path because she’d seen what I was doing and knew it could be done more efficiently with a bit of help. It was the times when she did these small things - when she WORKED WITH ME - that I wanted nothing more than to shower her with kisses, shove money into her hands and, hell, give her whatever else she may have wanted. The thought alone that she cared enough to make my life easier brought tears to my eyes. To her, these were small gestures, for me, they were huge. And unlike her, I had the ability to show my appreciation in very generous and grandiose ways.
Working alongside the Universe means exhibiting small kindnesses that contribute to the greater good of the world. It means making things better NOT worse. Imagine, for example, that a house is on fire and the fire-truck can’t get to it because no cars are moving out of the way. In this case, everyone would be a hero and flow in the direction of the Universe, by moving out of the way. Sometimes, it’s that simple!
Your friends, family and acquaintances who give you a kind word or pop up at the perfect time to help you or say some encouraging thing that you needed to hear… they’re the Universe. The big tip you got from a customer, the lady who gave you her extra coupon at the store the other day, the man YOU helped after he dropped his credit card… these people and experiences are all part of the same Universe. When we help each other we are part of the Universe’s wonderful conspiracy of abundant kindness, peace and love FOR ALL.
When we don’t appreciate the people, experiences and things that we have… when we work against the greater good by having a bad attitude, holding onto toxic behaviors, discouraging those who are attempting to be better versions of themselves and mistreating ourselves and others, standing in the way of progress… we are telling the Universe that we don’t deserve nice things. And everyone knows that one of the hardest things to do is to give a gift to someone who doesn’t want or appreciate it. In fact, sometimes the easiest thing is just to withhold the gift altogether.
So how do you know how you’ve been treating the Universe all this time? How do you know if you’re a helper?
That’s actually a really easy question to answer.
How do you treat the people who love you the most? How much do you appreciate and take care of what you have? Do you give thanks for experiences big and small? When it’s time to get things done do you moan and groan and side-eye? Or do you put in the work? These are your answers in a nutshell. Just like every Black mom (at least in MY Black-ass family) says “Y’all gonna appreciate me when I’m gone,” this is the same energy that the Universe has. So appreciate Her while she’s here, all around you. Providing, giving and conspiring in your favor. Sharpening you, motivating you. Because just like your favorite Auntie, the Universe loves you dearly and wants you to be happy beyond your wildest imagination… but if you don’t care, then She doesn’t either.
I want to end this blog post by saying that I want nothing but good things for you. Just like the Universe (and Tyra Banks), I’m rooting for you. We’re ALL rooting for you!
Now go and be great. And for the love of all things good, clean your room!