There lived a farmer who was growing one of the best corn in his country. Year after year he was winning the national award for the best quality produce. One year in an interview for a newspaper the farmer shared something that stunned the reporter interviewing him. The farmer said:
“I share my seeds with my neighbours every year.”
The reporter couldn’t believe it, he asked him – “How can you share your seeds with your neighbours when every year you are entering the competition? Are you not afraid they will take the prize from you?”
“Sir” said the farmer, “I thought you knew! Each year the wind is picking up the pollen from one field and is transferring it all around in the neighbouring fields. If my neighbours are growing lower quality corn, through cross-pollination it will slowly reduce the quality of my own corn. If I want to grow high quality corn, I need also to help and ensure my neighbours are growing quality corn as well.”
The same is with our lives – those who want to live a meaningful life must help enrich the lives of others, since the value of one life is measured by the lives it touched. The welfare of each of us is bound with the welfare of everyone else.
Call it whatever you want, but the fact is that none of us will truly win until we all win.
As I wrote recently in the social ground we tend to be very individualistic and as told in the story of the farmer we often think like the reporter. We try to protect our know-how, our emotions and hears, our possessions, our birthdays, our friends, the attention of others towards us. We want to make sure we have all of what we have now locked in a little tiny cast-iron box, locked inside a safe, behind a secret bookshelf. In other words, we want to make sure no one will be able to get from us the things that we have acquired.
This puts us in a very interesting position. We start to experience the world through the perspective of the threatened. We are constantly afraid “oh my God, i will lose it”! Once you are afraid you cannot love, because love and fear are on the opposite side of the spectrum. One excludes the other.
But lets think about the alternative. What if we freely share the attention and help our friends provide to us with others in need. What if we connect them when we see that it will benefit not us but our friends and the one that needs their skills, support, etc.? What if we show our emotions out loud so that they can be judged and seen by others and even rejected? What if we share our knowledge and experience freely whenever we see that others need it?
This is the perspective of love, however love doesn’t ask what it will receive in return. Nevertheless, lets think about it. Once we share freely we suddenly create a standard, a standard of sharing. So everyone that are around us now, in order to “make sense” in the context of hour behaviour will need to come up to that standard or go somewhere else where their behaviour will make more sense. Quickly the ones that fit and the others that don’t are filtered and you end up with like-minded people, sharing your believes and ethics. Also you strengthen the connection you have with them, because you stand up for something, you show courage because you opened up and became vulnerable. What you create in that way is a set of “neighbouring fields” that match the quality you want to maintain and thus ensure that you yourself will be expected to maintain the standard you set up for them.
Every moment is an opportunity to open up or close in, barricade the windows or open the door wide and invite others. As risky as it seems in the long run it can prove that opening the door will bring more connections, more like-minded people that support you and you can trust, people that will help you maintain the habits you desire, to lift you up when you most need it. Even more, those people will become your context and inspiration which will drive your motivation ahead. So next time when the question is at hand I dare you to take the risk and open up. See it as an investment in the long-term, as the cross-pollination that your character and environment needs to maintain its quality and standard. (And make sure you hold me accountable for my words here!)