Monday, January 18, 2016

Childhood Song Can Be a Daily Mantra that Changes Your Life

When I was very young, probably three or four years old, I learned a little song which I've remembered for more decades than, at that time, I thought a person could actually live. Today on my morning run the song popped into my head unexpectedly, as I ran along a stream. I run for many reasons. Because I want to be physically fit and healthy...I love surrounding myself in nature...I enjoy the challenge of setting and achieving workout goals...I crave the creative space it provides! Sometimes, like this morning, I need the freedom to allow the tears of life to flow steadily down my naked face and vulnerable soul, like a meandering stream that trusts the direction it flows but has no idea how far, or how long, it must go before it arrives at the open sea. Or if it ever will. To the stream, arrival doesn't exist. The purpose of the stream is to carry melted snow and ice in the form of clear water to...somewhere. Make no mistake, this is not a careless or naive stream. It's very wise because it's been flowing over large boulders and small rocks, trickled around bends, through canals, across meadows, and under bridges for a very long while, often carrying with it sticks, debris, leaves and small pebbles that add character and strength to the stream. And all the while, the stream continuously bubbles with a secret to happiness, found in the lyrics to the song of my childhood:
Give, said the little stream
Give, oh, give!
Give, oh, give!
Give, said the little stream
As it hurried down the hill.
I'm small, I know,
But wherever I go
The grass grows greener still.
Singing, singing all the way
Give, oh, give oh give away!
Singing, singing all the way!
Give, oh, give away!

What do we know about the stream? It's small, not a mighty, rushing river. But the little stream never compares itself, so it's confident being little. The stream is headed downhill. In other words, it comes from a higher place, so it steadily flows in the direction best suited for water. It hurries along like a child skipping contentedly. It does not aimlessly wander with fear, anxiety, doubt or discouragement like disenchanted adults often do. The stream has a clear perspective and purpose. No matter where it goes, it trusts the continuous flow of life and the rewards and blessings that come from forward motion. A melody accompanies the stream along its way. Similarly, there's a song that travels inside each of us, regardless of whether or not we can carry a tune. With that melody is a simple secret to pure happiness in life. 

The secret is that we must give! We each have something of intrinsic value to give another person every day, no matter what our circumstances may be. It's usually the little things we give that make the biggest difference: our time, energy, talents and expertise. Or perhaps it's a listening ear, open arms, a forgiving heart, a warm hug, a genuine smile, a gentle reply, a compliment, a careful consideration, a thoughtful gesture, an act of kindness, or simple laughter that lightens someone's heavy load. 

Whatever we choose to give, we can each do something today to pay it forward. In doing so, we nourish our family and friends, our neighbors and co-workers, our communities and our world. When we make it a habit to give a little bit of ourselves to another, as we flow along the streams of life, we not only help to make the grass greener for others, we make our own meadow more lush.  

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