Storytelling at Work
January 17, 2017
The Flower from the Sky

7da3b23bfbb1dd5e76bfafa9cf5d0dac.jpg
Be Here Now was the Bible of the 1960's or, if not the Bible, then at least the Bhagavad Gita -- a book that bridged the gap between East and West for an entire generation of long-haired, counter culture, God-seeking souls. And I was one of them.

The author of the book, Baba Ram Dass -- the ex-Harvard psychologist and popularizer of LSD -- was fast becoming a new kind of spiritual rock star. He had just returned from his pilgrimage to India with a ton of love and something far better than the Holy Grail -- the ability to communicate the essence of Eastern wisdom in ways even suburban hippies could understand.

I read his book five times the first month I owned it. I read it twice the second month. So when I heard that he was going to be speaking just a few miles from my abode in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I bought a ticket and went.

The evening was divided into three parts: Part One was a kind of introduction -- Ram Dass holding forth in ways even your mother would enjoy. He was charming. He was inspiring. And he made a lot of sense. A hour into his discourse, Ram Dass announced that there was going to be an intermission and that if anyone REALLY needed to leave, now would be a good time. And so some did.

Part Two went deeper. Much deeper. If Part One was Spirituality 101, Part Two was graduate school, complete with astounding stories about his Guru, the blanket-wearing, Neem Karoli Baba. After an hour or so, he informed the audience there was going to be yet another break, the perfect time, he explained, for anyone to leave who had to get home for any reason. And so, another bunch of people left, leaving about half of the original audience in the hall -- the hard core -- people who weren't going to leave until Ram Dass, himself, left or hell froze over, which ever came first.

Part Three went even deeper -- a magical mystery tour into various nooks and crannies of the spiritual adventure that all of us were on, no matter what path we walked. And then, as the midnight hour approached, with a sly smile and a slow bow, Ram Dass walked to the front of stage, removed the garland of flowers that adorned his neck and, one by one, began tossing flowers into the audience -- his gesture of recycling some of the love that had been directed at him all night. Immediately, most of the audience stood up and began reaching, Ram Dass continuing to toss.

When he turned in my direction, I had a decision to make. Do I stand and join the people standing all around me, or do I simply sit, cross-legged, where I was, hands on my knees in classic mudra position, thumb and index finger joined, my other three fingers extended, palms upward to the sky?

Content as I was, free of need, I did not move. I just sat there, watching Ram Dass toss another flower. It was yellow and I could see it coming towards me -- in slow motion, it seemed, a kind of time lapse photography of my life. The closer it got, the more people reached for it, everyone wanting a memento of the evening. I continued sitting my ground. Looking up, it felt as if I was living in a giant pin ball machine, the many arms above me, all at different levels, flippers poised for action. The tallest person near me was the first to touch it, but when they closed their hand, they missed and the flower continued its descent. A second person reached... and then a third -- in a succession of seven -- each failing to catch the object of their desire. I did nothing. I just sat there, watching, both of my hands open on my knees.

And then with absolutely no effort, not a millimeter of adjustment to the falling object from the sky, the flower landed perfectly in my right hand, bright yellow petals facing upward to the sky.

Just... like.... that.

COMMENTARY:
This little story happened to me 44 years ago, but it feels like yesterday. And WHY it feels like yesterday is because the lesson I learned was a timeless one.

What kind of effort do I need to make in life? What does it take to accomplish what it is I want? For most of my life, I have made a ton of effort, standing tall, reaching for what I want. Effort, I have reasoned, is what it takes to accomplish my goals. Effort... and tenacity... and a whole lot of perseverance. Who can argue with that? Read about the lives of anyone who has ever made a difference in the world and you will discover they have made a tremendous amount of effort. Makes sense. True. I get it. But there are times when the garden variety kind of effort human beings make will not suffice -- when trying... and reaching... and grasping... actually get in the way. Ever try to catch a milkweed pod floating by you? More often than not, just the wind of your reaching will be enough to push it further away. Bold reaching doesn't always work. Nor does grasping. Sometimes, we need to let things come to us. Sometimes, we need to simply strike the pose of RECEIVING and trust the process of our life.

That's how the flower landed in my hand. And that's how the flower will land in your hand. Knowing when to sit and when to stand, of course, is something only you can decide. There is no formula, no blueprint to follow. It's a moment-by-moment act of discovery. If you are experiencing, these days, that all of your standing and reaching and grasping is leaving you empty-handed, consider another approach. Slow down. Sit still. Open your eyes and your heart and your hands and let whatever you want come to you in its own sweet time.

Excerpted from my forthcoming book
My favorite website

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at January 17, 2017 12:12 PM

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


Remember me?


ABOUT THE BLOG

Storytelling at Work is a blog about the power of personal storytelling – why it matters and what you can do to more effectively communicate your stories – on or off the job. Inspired by the book of the same name, the blog features "moment of truth" stories by the author, Mitch Ditkoff, plus inspired rants, quotes, and guest submissions by readers.

Order the book:

Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling for the Revolution is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling to elevate the conversation on planet Earth. Provocative. Evocative. And fun. YOU have stories to tell. This book will help you tell them.
Storytelling at Work
"The world is not made of atoms," wrote the poet, Muriel Rukeyser. "It's made of stories." Learn how to discover, honor, and unpack the stories of yours that show up "on the job" in Mitch Ditkoff's award-winning 2015 book, Storytelling at Work.
FAQ
Do you want to know more about the book before buying it? Click here for Mitch's response to frequently asked questions about Storytelling at Work – the perfect book for people who think they have no time to read.
The Workshop
Storytelling is an "unconscious competency" – an ability we all have that all too often remains inaccessible to us. Enter the Storytelling at Work workshop – a simple way to activate this powerful, innate skill.
Wisdom Circles
Want to establish a culture of storytelling in your organization or community? Looking for a simple way to help people to share their meaningful, memorable stories with each other? Here's how.
Podcasts & Videos
Click here to view and listen to a series of interviews with the author of this blog. Go beyond the written word. Listen. Feel. Elevate the conversation. Understand what the big deal is about personal storytelling.
Blogs 'R Us
If you like this blog, you might also like Mitch's other two blogs: The Heart of Innovation and The Heart of the Matter. Mitch is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.
Idea Champions
When Mitch isn't writing, he's captaining the good ship Idea Champions, a leading edge innovation consulting and training company based in Woodstock, NY. What their clients say.
© IDEA CHAMPIONS