Opening this morning’s Oprah/Deepak meditation, I was sorely tempted to skip right past today’s topic: “How can I serve?” Nope, nope, nope, I intoned aloud.
Though in the end I listened anyway, I immediately turned “How can I serve?” into “How can I be positive?”
As a recovering and compulsive co-dependent, self-abandoner, let me do for you what I will not do for myself-er… I have a complex relationship with “serving others.”
But during the pre-meditation talk, the point that struck me most as, “Oh, here’s where can I learn,” was when Deepak reminded me that, “Giving and receiving are merely different aspects of the same flow of energy.” Harumph.
This stings because I have a lot of trouble on the receiving end of things, particularly to and from myself. It’s difficult and uncomfortable for me to treat myself with care, priority, and love. This compulsion is better than before, but I know the giving/receiving coin is one relationship that needs healing.
Because when I hear the question, “How can I serve?,” I see The Giving Tree. More specifically, I see that stump at the end of the story who’s like, “Nah, man, it’s totally cool that I’m nearly dead. Use what’s left of my husk to park your ass.”
Turning toward filling someone else’s need is a long-ingrained, long-painful pattern of mine, and so when I hear this question, I recoil from it dramatically.
But I know that’s not truly what Deepak is saying (perhaps it is what some religious or spiritual tenets are saying). I am not being told to give of myself until there’s nothing left. I am not being told to give away something against my will that I don’t want to give. I am not being told to over-ride my “Red Alert!” alarm when a soul-vampire is at my door, and invite them in anyway because “they need me” or “it’s the ‘kind’ thing to do,” or because “that’s what a spiritual person would do.”
But in order to hear what is actually being said, I must replace the word “serve” with the words “be positive.”
I can be a positive force in the world. I can offer a smile, return a text, share my words here. I can not be a f*cking drag, even though I feel breakuply shitty right now.
I can get out of my head, meet a friend, go to a museum. That is how I can be positive today.
But I cannot “serve” you. It’s self-service here, buddy. Get with the times.