Saturday, July 15, 2017

What Am I?

What am I?

I am not my anxiety;
it does not define me

I am not my TODO list,
or the tasks I accomplish each week

I am not defined by what I do or feel!

I am not my fears or failures
I am not my dreams, my growth, my pleasure, nor my pain

I learn, I grow, I rise, I fall
I'm something else
Something more?

What am I?
Everything?
Nothing?
Instrument?
Insignificant?

I am a collection of particles
My feet on the Earth, 
my particles mingle with all other particles
I am connected
No "I", no "me", no "my"

Observe and learn to accept; 
don't get too involved
My doing is only for myself, no one or nothing else.

Breath calmly, try to make peace

What am I?
That is the question.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Jesús

Editor’s note: This post is over a year overdue! Writing it even now, the story remains fresh and near to my heart and I’m excited to share it. It is about my friend Jesús and the work he is doing in Kibera, the largest slum in Nairobi, Kenya.

UPDATE: If your moved by Jesús and his story and want to do something to support, please vote for the school project here.

Jesús and I met in Ahmedabad in 2010 when he arrived as a volunteer with Architects Without Frontiers to build Anganwadi schools with Manav Sadhna. Among several projects, he was involved in building Patangyu. In his spare time he and I held a regular football practice with some of the MS children. That later grew into the MS Sports Program that continues on today. 

After leaving India in 2012 and traveling to Peru in 2013 to build another school in a slum area there, in January 2015 Jesús moved to Nairobi, Kenya to work with an NGO doing educational work in Kibera. At the time he made the decision to move, details about this NGO and the project he would be doing were vague. But it was Jesús’ experiment to bravely jump in and, in his own words, “lose myself in service of others.” In fact Jesús nature is to serve however and wherever he is called.

As it turned out, the NGO he had originally come to Kibera for didn’t pan out. At that point most of us would have patted ourselves on the back for the effort, tuck-tailed and run back home. But not Jesús. He kept digging and came to know about another organization, KDI, also doing education and community-related work in Kibera. Despite no formal introduction or partnership in place, Jesús decided to stay on and work with KDI on their various projects building bridges, public toilet facilities, community gathering spaces, shops, playgrounds, and more within Kibera. Essentially, creating open spaces by and for the community. Jesús had no funding or clear project, just a desire to serve. After some time a vision for a school, KDI’s biggest project yet, took shape and Jesús was appointed to lead it. Along with support from a German Architecture NGO, Jesús began the journey of building a multi-story school in the middle of dense Kibera.

If you've been to Kibera, you would say the notion of building a pukka school in the belly of this dusty dense and dubious place is impossible. There is an endless list of challenges. At the first level there is securing the will of the community, the resources, and the know-how. Jesús had to convince the community of the design (including details like whether to build the toilet facing the main road with a public entrance or inside only for the children or for pay), the materials to be used (in the middle of construction, the local Nubian community demanded that the concrete structure be replaced by mud), and the timeline (the children were re-located temporarily to a church during construction, but its distance and lack of facilities caused attendance to drop). After that there are an enormous number of logistical hurdles. Here’s one story Jesús told, in one of his regular emails to friends since construction began in 2016, on transporting materials from the main road down to the site by hand:

The poor accessibility to the site, means that materials (sand, gravel, stone...) have to be carried all the way from the main road to the site (around 300meters) by foot with sacks or wheelbarrows.  Kibera is full of "porters", who are young people waiting on the side of the road to carry materials in exchange for a bunch of shillings. What happened was, some porters got "distracted" and ended up with the sacks of cement in their houses instead of on the site. So, to make sure all the materials reach safe and sound, the teachers are doing this: every time materials reach the road, the teachers leave their classes, and stand along the path (from road to site) 50 meters apart monitoring the materials entire trip...So far, none of the porters have been distracted again. ;)
Even once the materials are at the site, they have to prevent them from theft by keeping security 24 hours a day. At one point, the security guard had to be fired because he was himself stealing bags of cement! In another episode, Jesús had to demolish and shift a pillar by 30cms so a neighbor could squeeze a couch through the narrow common road. During construction a pit latrine was discovered under the building site which caused the another part of the school to be demolished and rebuilt as it was to risky to build on top of the latrine. Most recently, in order to connect the schools toilets to the main sewage line they had to open up 200 meters of roads in the slum.
Classes have commenced without teachers and a completed building!
The school is not complete yet, but Jesús can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Still, the parents of the children have decided they do not want to wait to get out of the tunnel and launched a rebellion to allow the children to start coming to the half-completed school! Classes have commenced and Jesús had to roll with another unexpected turn in the journey. Humbly, he writes how this was a reminder that this project was not about the finished product but the journey, with the community. And what a journey it is!

I am continuously inspired by Jesús and his humble work all around the world. He works deeply embedded in the most challenging contexts and is able to observe and delight in both the ugliness and and beauty of life around him. I am always thrilled to get his every-few-months email photo diary entries where he shares about small and beautiful things about life and culture in Kenya with such rich vivid detail. The way he lives and works is truly humble, powerful, impactful, and exceptional and gives me tremendous hope for humanity to build connections and serve with a truly open heart.

Thank you, hermano, for who you are and the work you do continue to do in quiet corners of the world that touches and inspires so many all around the world.


Last year, I was able to visit Jesús and Lily in Nairobi and see Jesús’ work first hand. Here is a short photo diary of that visit (photos with captions).




Saturday, October 10, 2015

Floss Test

In recent years I have made efforts to take my meditation practice "off the cushion." I realized the real goal of the practice is to be constantly aware, continually present, moment to moment. Otherwise you just sit on the cushion 1-2 times a day and its an oasis of presence at best, a ritual at worst. The practice becomes alive and really starts to benefit you if you are able to apply it during the other 22 hours.

Continual awareness in day-to-day life is a big challenge. For a couple years, I've found pockets of mundane life where robust awareness and precense has made headway: when I drive, before I sleep, while I prepare food, while I walk around, while I sit and wait, etc. But these are just small punctures into the vast thick canvas of consciousness that covers life.

One test of awareness and mindfulness I've been playing with is the Floss Test. Every morning, I floss my teeth. Usually, I wake up and brush or floss and its so mechanical I forget that I've even done it 30 min later. I stood in front of the mirror and picked at my teeth for several minutes, but I don't even have the prescense of mind to remember what I did or sometimes that I was even there.

So I've made a habit of trying to be fully aware while flossing my teeth. More times than I'd like to admit, I start flossing with mindfulness, but by the time I'm at the end of the line my mind has wandered and I wasn't there for the experience of cleaning the last few teeth or throwing away my floss. It's crazy how many times I've promised myself I will end that two minutes with the same presence as when I started, for the sake of this game, but was still not able to maintain. But over time it's slowly gotten better.

This bootstrapped approach seems inelegant. Once I'm able to master flossing, I'll move on to showering, then eating, then exercising? Seems quite brittle.

Is there a better way than "fake it till you make it?"

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Winning Is A Drug



Our U-12 team recently competed in a league, hosted by Kahaani. They played about six matches, one every Sunday morning, over two months. Heading into their last match, they had lost 3 matches and drew in two. In the final match, they got their first win.

The children played brilliantly. They passed, they ran hard, they stayed in position, and they played together. Though they dominated the entire game, they were down 1-0 at half. They scored two hustle-style goals in the second. After they took the lead, they frantically protected for the next five minutes. The stakes were very high. When the final whistle blew, they were over the moon. Flying around whooping and hugging. It was difficult to calm them down enough to shake hands with the other team.

Afterwards Manishaben hosted a very cute ceremony for all the league teams with parents and coaches all around, and medals were handed out. I forgot how exciting it is to receive a medal. The children continued to occupy cloud nine.

On the car ride home, the mood was night and day different than after the other matches. They were chatting non-stop with each other, singing songs, yelling, asking for the radio to get turned up, planning how to tell Rahulbhai the big news ("Neilsir, Neilsir! Don't tell Rahulsir we won, we want to surprise him!"). The spirit was highly elevated. All because they knocked a ball into a net one time more than another group of kids over a forty minute span. When we got back to MS, they flew out of the van straight over to Rahulbhai and the other kids to bask in the glory. The medals were shown off proudly and placed around each others' necks. It was tremendous joy.

Winning is a drug. It totally changes your mood and outlook on life. Everything in your lens is tinted with a special shine. This experience made me think about why I was never attracted to drugs or alcohol growing up. They never appealed to me, seemed irrelevant to my life and lifestyle.

It was because I was already getting high all the time on the football pitch.


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Purpose Of Life

Over the years, my personal declaration of life purpose (or "life goal") has evolved:

"Be rich and famous" (childhood)
"Be a leader, serve the world" (teenage)
"Reach my full potential as a human being" (20s)
"Purify myself, develop spiritually" (30s)

Most recently, it has essentialized to:

"Take high quality breaths"

I'm really happy with this, it gets at the crux of the matter. This latest evolution was greatly influenced by a piece shared by Rushabh earlier this year on the occasion of Nipun's birthday. I found the piece profound and I have had it in my mind and heart since I read it 8 months ago. I've gone back to it several times. I hope you enjoy.

Life And Mind. A Conversation.

Mind: I wonder what the purpose of Life is.
Life: Hmm
Mind: I hear so many things: To realise your dreams. To improve yourself every day. To achieve wealth. To serve others. To make the world a better place etc..
Life: That's a whole lot of stuff to do!
Mind: Tell me about it! Now, they all do seem to be related to each other, but you know I can't achieve all of them...
Life: So who asks you to?
Mind: Er, you ask of me to, don't you?
Life: No.
Mind: Wait a minute! There are religions founded on it, self-help books doing raging business about it - they all say deep, important  sounding things about Life's purpose! And you are saying you don't ask any of those things?
Life: Nope. All those things seem to achieve the purpose of your, the mind's, life.
Mind: But you are my life. So my purpose is your purpose too, is it not?
Life: No. Your life, the Mind's life, is a story filled with events and feelings that you experienced or imagined. It extends on a timeline from the Past to the Future. It believes that all the events and feelings add up to some cumulative meaning. That is not like me at all.
Mind: Then what are you like?
Life: No story. No past, no future. Just alive. Right Now.
Mind: Right, and how exactly do you intend to stay truly alive without excitement, feelings, goals, and meaning?
Life: By breathing, of course.
Mind: That is it?
Life: That is it. Everything else is your story. And others people's mind-stories that get published for you to read. My purpose is to breathe. Deeply, slowly, in relaxation.
Mind: Then we can all just sit around doing nothing but breathe?
Life: Be my guest. But what happens if people do that?
Mind: The body wont survive if it does not hunt for food, or work for food.
Life: So you must work so you can eat, stay alive, so that Breathing, my purpose, can continue.
Mind: What about working for riches, creating jobs, or changing the world? To become brave, fair, kind, compassionate?
Life: Those pursuits and ends are of no interest to me.
Mind: If those ends don't matter then why would people dance, sing, plough land, serve, create, do scientific  experiments, read, write, meditate, exercise? If they began to believe that their purpose was only to eat and breathe, why would anyone do  anything?
Life: Ah, now these things you just said are important to do. Because you and the body have been so designed that it is in the process of focused activity that Breathing happens best.  Regardless of what action it is, when the mind is still or on focus then the body breathes the deepest. In this state, what psychologists call 'Flow', my purpose gets gloriously fulfilled. The same is the objective of Yoga asanas and Meditation.
Mind: So the desire for activity and ambition are just meant to develop focus and stillness in me?
Life: Right. To me it doesn't matter whether you dance or sing or read, or are a sportsperson or a traveler or an  accountant, whether you are rich or not, so long as you do what you do with a relaxed focus and breathing deeply.
Mind: What about the outcome of activity and ambition? That matters too!
Life: Why?
Mind: Here is why: Taking your point further, I have noticed that when  I accomplish a task, or get appreciation from others then the body feels happy, and takes in a deep breaths of satisfaction. That is a fulfillment of your purpose. Therefore to accomplish or get appreciation must also be important to achieve your purpose.
Life: Interesting point. First tell me, what do you feel in the moments after when you accomplish something?
Mind: I feel satisfied, contented, maybe happy.
Life: What does that mean? Peel one more layer further.
Mind: It means that in that moment, I feel I have what I wanted for that moment. That I don't want anything more.
Life: So after you got what you wanted, could it be said there is a  state of 'momentary desire-less-ness' in you?
Mind: Er, yes.
Life: It is not the achievement of your desires that makes the body and mind happy, it is the momentary state of desire-less-ness that does it.
Mind: But unless I achieve or get appreciated how will I feel that momentary state of desire-less-ness?
Life: But you dont accomplish great things in most events in your life.  Why wait for the state of desire-less-ness only in moments  after accomplishment and appreciation? Why not all the time, if you could?
Mind: How?
Life: By not expecting victory or appreciation at the end of your activity. To not really care what the ultimate outcome of your activity or ambition is. That way you also have more fun doing whatever you are doing.
Mind: Hold on, one sec, quick revision: There are two things I hear you saying - a relaxed,  focused activity in step with the body, and a state of desire-less-ness.  So in combination it means To Act, but with a state of Desire-less-ness. So is that the prescription for fulfilling Life's purpose?
Life: Sounds about right. There is a term for it too: Nishkaam Karma, coined by Lord Krishna in the Gita.
Mind: Ah! And I am also stiller when I focus only on my intention, instead of focusing on the outcome. So that works out well for both of us in the long run, ain't it?
Life: Karma is not a delayed payment system. It is instantaneous. The moment you act without focusing on the outcome, the mind, the body and the activity immediately align with each other and your breathing becomes calmer and deeper. That feeling is no different from what you would  feel in moments after a favorable outcome.
Mind: ...And if I already have that feeling during the activity, then I could treat victory or defeat after the activity just the same, right?
Life: That is correct. Now, does that remind you of Rudyard Kipling's poem 'If', or what Gautam Buddha wrote in the Lotus Sutra?
Mind: Hmm..so the psychology of Flow, the practice of Yoga and meditation, teachings of Krishna, the poem 'If', and the insight of Buddha..they are all  connected?
Life: Indeed..They converge to the same truth inside you - to keep the body moving and the mind still - to cause relaxed, deep breaths moment by moment. That is my only purpose.


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Golden Temple

Visiting the Golden Temple in Amritsar was the best experience I've had in my life at a religious site. The connection to the spirit and values of the place was immediate, natural, and complete. Nimo, who along with Jay was with me on the visit, mentioned that it was the first place where he felt completely natural and worry-free entering a public bathroom barefoot. Being around the temple felt like being home.

We spent two days in Amritsar, and visited the main tourist sites: Jallianwala Bagh, and Wagah border. But the main attraction, and where we spent most of our time, was the Golden Temple. The first night we arrived we did a cursory survey of the space, wandering around the outer area and meditating at the banks. The next morning we woke up early at 3am to get there when friends recommended it was at its peaceful best. We waited in line and did dharshan in the temple, and meditated there for some time. As we walked around, Nimo mentioned several times how the space felt so inviting. The universal love embedded in Sikhi felt embodied in the space. You didn't feel judged, coerced, bothered. Everyone came as they were and were accepted into the fold of the place in an effortless, respectful flow. Whether you wanted a place to eat, sleep, or pray, this was a clean, inviting space for anyone to come and be. No one ran, pushed in line, gave a dirty look, cramped your space. The rich marble floors and walls were spotless, the water pristine, soothing sweet live kirtan music played in the background to set a sacred mood 24 hours with large LCD displays in the corners translating in real time in English and Hindi, big healthy happy fish swam in the shallows and bobbed their heads up to say hello. It was a Spiritual Disneyland, but not in the ostentatious vein of Akshardham. Here the attractions were less flashy, more rooted. I thought several times of Guri, who carries herself with the same graceful, understated elegance. Just a pure experience.

As we walked out of the temple that morning, I heard a haggard old lady's voice asking for people to give her space to come through. She was an old shriveled rail thin woman, walking with a cane cutting through the crowd. She was violently hunchback, bent over pretty much 90 degrees. She hobbled gingerly on weak limbs and clutched the pant legs of passersby to keep balance, all the while looking straight down because of her back. Like everyone else, she had come to do her dharshan. And not just at the ground floor; as she clutched my leg and walked by, I looked back and saw that she was climbing up the steep flight of stairs I had just come from to visit a relatively minor part of the temple. Unbelievable. Only in places as spiritually charged as this do you see such miracles of faith and strength.

The level of seva at the Golden Temple was through the roof. I have never seen anything like it, and it was what stood out for me most about the place. Deep, humble seva was happening all around, all the time, in all aspects of the workings of the temple. It reminded of the spirit of volunteerism of Vipassana centers combined with the scale, complexity, and synchronicity of moving parts of an Aravind Eye Hospital. Visitors to the temple double as volunteers for its upkeep, slotting in to lend a hand at all hours of the day for all levels of work from large to small. One area is cleaning. Cleaning the floors, scrubbing the fountains, wiping down a wall or doorway as you pass with your dupatta or handkerchief. In the long dharshan line to the main temple, I saw one man on hands and knees with a wet cloth mopping the floor as the line slowly moved forward, cleaning inch by inch. In the morning, we saw men chest-deep in the pond, fully clothed, scrubbing the stone rim and floor with long rough brushes. They would slowly wade around the perimeter of the pond in peaceful lines, scrubbing inch after inch, one behind the other, stopping only to thoughtfully hand wash the signs for visitors. This is a part of the temple most people won't even see, yet these men very caringly left no pond floor area unscrubbed. Similar compassionate care was given to a tree in the temple grounds, very old and buckling over from age and weight to near collapse. An elaborate metal support system had been erected to keep it upright.

Many people know about the Lungar operation, which is famous for its huge scale with high quality. We were told 75,000 people are fed in the free kitchen every day. There are vats the size of several men slow cooking huge amounts of tasty black daal. Tons and tons of vegetables, there is a whole hall of people sitting on the floor silently peeling garlic. All day and night, 24 hours. The dining consists of two large halls side by side. You are led into one of them, where there are simple mats already laid out in neat rows. You sit with a steel thali and are served by people roaming around with buckets of daal and yogurt, and baskets of rotis. After all have finished a cleaning crew immediately comes in and starts rolling up the mats and wetting the floors and running huge mops back and forth. Meanwhile the other hall opens for people to start eating while the cleaning completes.

We marveled at the dishwashing operation, which is all done by hand. Four or five large long steel stations are set up side by side with troughs of water. Huge heaps of thalis are poured into the first station; either the all-lady or all-men station scrubs, and passes to the next trough where they are rinsed, then next for another scrub, and another rinse. Millionaires stand side by side with villagers to do the dishes at these stations. The MVP of the operation, though, are the poor chaps who carry huge cans of dirty dishes from the collection area to the dishwashing. Dirty dishes are literally flung into the cans and these chaps acts as backboards to collect the flying steelware. Then they carry these huge heavy cans of dirty dishes over to the troughs and somehow tip them into the trough. True invisible service.

For all the different areas of work happening, there doesn't seem to be a single sign-in or sign-out sheet. It all seems to happen organically. I sat in for some time at a water bowl washing station. As soon as I sat I was automatically integrated into the system, receiving bowls to scrub and passing them down the line for rinsing. Interestingly, we scrubbed the steel bowls with fresh bright black dirt. I watched an older man next to me spend five minutes on each bowl with total serene concentration, scrubbing every nook and cranny, rubbing his fingers into the tiny cracks and wiping back and forth vigorously until the steel shined. It reminded me of Thich Nhat Hanh opening the door and Larry Brilliant serving tea. It wasn't about what you were doing; it was about what was happening to you as you were doing it.

There was no job too small, too humble. One old man inside the temple stood at the doorway in front of a dharshan area, and as people entered silently gestured to those whose heads weren't fully covered to do so. One night it rained, and at the shoe deposit area where men collect your shoes, put them into a cubby and return a token, a line of ladies sat on the ground in the back of the cubby area. In the midst of those dirty muddy shoes, the ladies scrubbed shoes of complete strangers clean with hand brushes. They did this for some time, and then just as nonchalantly as they entered, anonymously left. Godliness in action.

What is the Golden Temple? At one level, an important and popular religious pilgrimage site. Below the surface, it's a high degree of difficulty ballet professionally coordinated with humble effortlessness and ease, powered by pure-intentioned service from an army of visible and invisible hands.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Dharmshala

I want to share three memorable stories from mine and Jay's trip to Dharamshala (technically we were in McCleodganj, which is upper Dharmshala where Dalai Lama's monastery is).

Lion Man Show

On the first day we were in town Jay spotted a flier for a "live tibetan culture show." It sounded worthwhile, and it was Rs.200, which is quite expensive, so we were intrigued. The show was held at a school in town. It turned out to be a one-man show called the Lion Man Show. It was performed by a Tibetan refugee who said his show was about Tibetan culture. It was his expression of Tibet and his way of sharing Tibet's message with the world, through song, music, and dance. It ended up being the best and worst thing I've ever seen.

Lion Man was not a particularly talented performer. He singing was terrible and he couldn't really play the guitar-like instrument he aimlessly plucked in one of his opening numbers. Ten minutes into the show we were questioning whether this was a scam or joke, and trying to figure out how we could get our money back. Then Lion started bringing up people from the audience (particularly the biggest and heaviest folks) and picking them up in feats of strength. He would get them into contortions, pick them up, spin around, run into the audience, and nearly crash before letting them down. At one point he had two people on his back, reached back and pulled off one shoe and sock of each, and started tickling their feet. A few people very nearly face planted. The crowd was partially laughing, partially in shock. None of us were really prepared for what was happening, and weren't sure what to make of it.

In the second part of his act, Lion did dances related to "freedom" of Tibet. One "dance" was him going into the crowd and getting face to face, sometimes lip to lip with every member of the audience as music played. It was funny and intense. Some ladies got up and left the room before they got to their face. I was ready and waiting.

Later Lion did some crazy dances spinning around repeatedly for 15-20 mins, covering his head and spinning, stripping down to his speedo, slamming his body into the hard concrete, kicking off his shoes out the window, jumping out of the window and jumping back in with his lost boot. He also would fart. It seemed like it was a part of the dance. He would repeatedly fart in different poses. In one "dance" he took a singing bowl and beat it repeatedly, putting it on his head and on his body and beating it hard until the knob went flying off. All while inserting farts here and there. For his finale, he unraveled a full roll of toilet paper and wrapped himself in it. Then he lit the paper on fire under a candle, and ate pieces of it. Then he lit parts of his body on fire. You can guess the body parts.

Lion said his performance was about Tibetan culture, but this seemed like nothing to do with Tibet. On the other hand, there were what seemed like a few people in the audience from Tibet, and they were totally into it. I couldn't make out if this was a joke or there was a deeper message to Lion's madness. After the show a couple from Oakland said they believed Lion was doing art and there was meaning behind the shenanigans. Deep message or not, I will not forget Lion for a long time.

Photowalk

We did a photo walk hosted by a young photo journalist Abhinav who had been living in McCleodganj for the last year. There were about seven of us who joined, some of whom like Abhinav were young transplants from metros to live in the natural beauty of the mountains. It was a lovely hike into the woods and down to a river. At the river we stopped and had Maggi. On the way back, I asked for a couple garbage bags from a snack shack owner and started picking up wrappers. All of us got into it. It changed the whole dynamic of the hike. Suddenly we started talking about pollution and waste and other global problems. It brought us closer together. Abhinav said he may make "waste warriors" a regular part of the walks. Everyone became hyper conscious of the trail and trying to pick up every last piece of trash. There was a lot, we filled up several large sacks. It felt a bit obsessive by the end, it is impossible to clean up the whole forest and yet you don't want to leave any small wrapper behind. It does take you out of the enjoyment of nature, but on the other hand you feel like you are a contributor to the place.

It was an example of how a small act can have a dramatic ripple and change the dynamic of a group, for better or worse.

Gift at Four Seasons

There are tons of great places to eat in Mcleodganj. The one restaurant we went to twice was a small family Tibetan restaurant called Four Seasons Cafe. The second time we got to chat with the very sweet lady manager. We discussed vegetarianism, since it's a passionate subject for Jay. We noticed that the restaurant had posted a notice that they will serve and consume vegetarian food only every Wednesday for the year of 2015, in honor of the Dalai Lama and his spirit of kindness. We told her we loved her food, Jay especially loved a Tibetan noodle and gravy dish that he said was the best thing in town. At some point I really wanted to offer her a gift to thank her for her hospitality. But I wasn't really carrying anything appropriate. I reached deep into my bag and pulled out a keychain we had gotten as a gift in Amritsar. It was from a server at Brothers' Dhabha, which happened to be our favorite restaurant in Amritsar during our visit there. I really wasn't thinking of it at the time, but it ended up being an appropriate gift, as I told her that it was from one favorite restaurant to another. She gladly accepted, and even appreciated the idea of a restaurant handing out branded keychains. Maybe she would do the same!

The desire to give was unplanned, but the intention was pure. What was given wasn't appropriate in the moment, but it ended up working out well. A lot of the time it doesn't, but I know folks who have spontaneous meaningful gifting down to an art. Radical generosity, like anything else, can only improve with practice.