“How generous are you willing to be? Will you share yourself? Do you dare? Or are you just going to be stingy? In case you fall? In case you fail? How generous are you willing to be with your whole life?” ~ Jesua
One of my favorite definitions of generosity (yes, I’m going all English major-y again) is “freedom from meanness or smallness of mind or character.” I’ve received materially generous gifts that were replete with meanness or smallness of mind. They felt terrible to receive. Gifts given with strings attached or hidden agendas are stinginess in disguise.
Generosity of the spirit requires an open, vulnerable heart. Generosity of my energy, of myself, is risky. What if my gift isn’t welcomed or accepted? What if they don’t like it, and by extension, don’t like me? What if I’m rejected or laughed at?
It takes courage to step forward and generously offer that which only you can give. Your gifts, your Self. How generous are you willing to be?
My wonderful yoga teacher, Liz Reynolds sent an essay to me not long ago that speaks directly to the courage it takes to be truly generous. The writer, Jesua, tells the story of studying modern dance in her twenties after a serious illness that left her nervous system damaged. Moving in a room full of lithe and nimble dancers, she felt clumsy and gracelessness, embarrassed and ashamed.
When I was in my early thirties, I finally admitted to myself that I wanted to dance. My students these days often presume that not only have I come from a dance background, but that throughout my life I was always the first one on the dance floor.
So very not, actually. I was far too self-conscious and fearful to dance. Except for 5-year-old ballet, my first dance class was when I was 33 and I never got on a dance floor without heavy alcohol lubrication (and even then, my dancing was severely inhibited). I know all about that embarrassed shame and fear of ridicule that Jesua describes.
The story goes on, though. Jesua sticks with her dancing and she heals both her body and her mind. She starts to get it, to feel the connections and the flow. This part of the story resonated with me, too. I’ve been teaching movement for 15 years and I know the feeling of my body and mind becoming more integrated, of the flow of movement and energy, of being danced.
But then the essay took a turn that made me catch my breath. The author tells of a day when the dancers were warming up in the studio and her teacher stopped everything and came up to her in a rush of loving fierceness and said,
“How generous are you willing to be? How generous are you willing to be with your whole life? Will you share yourself with us? With the world? Do you dare? Or are you just going to hold yourself tightly in, hold these long arms and legs all to yourself?
“Are you just going to be stingy? Just keep yourself to yourself for the rest of your life? In case you fall? In case you fail? In case you make a fool of yourself? In case we see how imperfect you are?
“OR: are you going to choose to just be generous anyway? To just take up as much space as you actually take up? To be as big, as graceful, as long, as gorgeous, as enormous as you actually are?”
My eyes filled when I read these words, I feel the truth of them …for myself, for my students, for so many people I know. When will you unfold yourself, show up and give us the gift of you? How generous are you willing to be?