July 30, 2013
What I Learned While Watering My Neighbor's Flowers
Our neighbor, Marianne, was visiting family this past week, and I tended to her flowers & hummingbirds while she was away. (One of her lilies, above.)
Daily, I went over to spend quiet time carrying water here & there from her rain barrel to her many potted plants about her yard. I spent significantly more time deadheading - something I've noticed she doesn't have much patience for anymore at 94.
I found that taking care of Marianne's flowers is more fun than caring for my own. There was the added anticipation of creating a happy surprise for her. I was so excited for her to see her petunia boxes, overflowing with blooms when she returned home.
I share this in no way seeking a pat on the back. Having Marianne as our neighbor & just knowing her family is reward beyond anything we could ever do for her.
I'm sharing because I benefited more than her flowers or hummingbirds did this past week.
I'm reminded of one of my favorite Frog & Toad stories. (Frog & Toad cover the best lessons in life - in a way I adore. They are children's books, but adults can appreciate them just as much, if not more. You should read them.)
The story I'm thinking of is from Frog & Toad All Year, titled "The Surprise."
The general idea is that happiness comes from the act of doing.. and that it's better to give than to receive.
Frog & Toad decide, separately & secretly, to rake each others leaves, as a surprise to one another. They go about sneaking over to eachother's house, where they work hard & feel excited about the surprise that their efforts will give. Then they go home, extremely satisfied with the secret deed they've done for their friend.
While they are each on their way home through different routes through the woods & tall grass, a wind comes & blows all the leaves that they had raked everywhere.
They each get home, see the mess of leaves, and say, "Tomorrow I will clean up my own leaves. How surprised my friend must be!" And they go to sleep happy & filled with contentment.. both still will messy yards. (The End.)
It's the feeling of doing & giving that made their own hearts content.
Doing simple, thoughtful things for someone you care about is rewarding.
Even if a storm had come, and blown all of Marianne's blooms into a mess, the time I spent caring for them was quality time that I enjoyed thoroughly & benefited from.
Lilly & Beau got in on the enthusiasm, toting watering buckets around too. The joy was contagious.
If laughter is the best medicine like they say it is, then maybe watering your neighbors flowers, or doing small or unknown things for someone, is like a small feast of nourishment for our well being.
And the wonderful thing is - we can help yourself to as much as we'd like.
“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sharing with Tuesday Muse NF Blo-Ma