A Lot Can Happen in 10 Days :)

Oct 12, 2011

Returning back to my inbox, after 10-days of meditation, is a surreal experience.  So many little strands of goodness coming at you, from all directions.

Last Wednesday, BJ Miller spoke on a Wednesday about his lessons from a remarkable life and directing Zen Hospice Project; listening to his audio recording, his opening itself was beautiful, "This is first talk I’m not nervous for.  It is clearly such a friendly audience and it doesn’t sound like I can go wrong. :)  Its just so honest.  What a sweet feeling that is.  Very unusual.” “Never been to a thing like this.  Makes me downright hopeful for the future!" he later wrote.  One of the guests, Arthur, sent out a response to all: "What a tremendous difference BJ’s presence has made in my life!  I am looking forward eagerly to see how I can pass his talk on to everyone with whom I come in contact."

Of the couple dozen places around the world that hosts Wednesdays, Singapore is the latest.  Last week, Min was super excited that 21 folks showed up at their first Wednesday gathering!  They've even setup their own website -- sgwednesdays.com! :)

In a span of ten days, the CF ecosystem sends out 1.5 million pieces of inspired emails.  That’s a lot.  And those ripples can really add up.  From New Jersey, John D. wrote a thanks in response to a DailyGood story about a runner who carries his competitor half a mile: "As an activist who spends hours 6 days a week helping those in pain/need and at the same time being exposed to incredible ugliness done by humans each moment of every day I thank you with my heart for showing the BEAUTY which is still out there."  From the United Kingdom, Janie W. wrote: "I just wanted to say thank you for what you are doing. I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer a couple of months ago ... My medicine is expensive and it is getting hard but we are ok right now … GOD is providing ...Thank you for blessing others like me … I would like to ask you to pray for me and my family and I will pray for you..Thank you."  Eyitayo Abejide signed on to volunteer with this note: "In Nigeria, we often show kindness to our relatives and friends but rarely to strangers. More often than not, we expect gratitude from them. However, I think showing kindness to someone who doesn't know us nor can even reciprocate is noble idea and I certainly would like to leave these cards behind along with acts of kindness to show that such things can happen even in Nigeria praying that more people will imbibe the culture. There's always something nice to do for someone everyday."

Each of these simple notes can really touch you in a deep place, especially after 10-day of meditation. :)

At Karma Kitchen, an older African American woman described how she read an article on CF, broke into tears and now volunteers every month -- “I never thought about giving and receiving in this way.”  Chenee wrote: "Because of ServiceSpace's lead, I decided to make my wellness arts practice a gift economy one. It feels really good.  THANK YOU for being you and for being the light I can see on the path!"  Bringing Wednesday-style guest speakers to the East Bay, Vlad inaugurated Wisdom Seed with Haricharan Das, who Richard first met as he entered his home to paint the house.  Inspired by Paul’s not-yet-released :) chapter on not-fundraising, Chris (Lowman) wrote unFundraising statement for his Africa trip (incidentally, this week’s iJourney reading is by him as well).  Due to a recent talk I had given at Vedika, they are now seriously thinking of starting their own local gift-economy restaurant.  On a related note, a research department at UC Berkeley contacted us about doing research on why exactly gift-economy outfits actually work. :) On KarmaTube’s video about Shirley the Elephant got close to 18 thousand (that’s thousand) likes and over 20 thousand shares on FaceBook alone.  And the following week, Hollywood actress Rosario Dawson tweeted about our Power of One video too!  On Gandhi’s birthday, October 2nd, Madhu, Meghna, Siddharth and the Moved By Love gang stepped up Smile Cards into a remarkable new manifestation -- SMILE STORE!  And Nimesh and his troupe of 16 slum children debuted their first show on Ekatva (Oneness).

By itself, all of these are small things.  Yet, when it comes at you, one after another after another, its easy to sink into a “this is unbelievable” feeling.

Venkat Krishnan, after launching various quantifiable large scale movements in India, was inspired by the SS posse to venture into the unquantifiable realm. :)  All across India, for the last couple years, he has launched a massive “Joy of Giving” week around Gandhi’s birthday.  This year was bigger than ever before.  All over the media, millions knew about it and so many engaged with it in multitude of ways.  And Smile Decks were the biggest sensation.  While distributing thousands of locally printed Smile Decks, Venkat (who is not prone to exaggeration :)) wrote, “A hundred thousand thanks to you guys for this simple and amazingly powerful idea of making change happen, one little act at a time.”  Bollywood actress Gul Panag repeatedly tweeted about it: “Pick a card and play.  I picked!”.  Media wrote about it too. Times of India, for example, described how people were using it:

Arti Krishnamurthy from Chennai has Down Syndrome. The card she picked was the four of clubs: give a gift to the sweeper in your society. It was a rainy Friday morning in Chennai and the stairs of the three-storey building Arti lives in were very dirty. Gopal anna, the building sweeper was pleasantly surprised when Arti decided to sweep all three flights of stairs herself. "He does this everyday but would have found it twice as hard to sweep the mess up today," said Arti, who is not new to such acts. "At lunch time, she makes sure the maid's kids sit with her and are served what she is," says mother Sandhya.  KN Chandrashekaran, a structural engineering consultant from Hyderabad, drew the three of diamonds : close your eyes and practice absolute silence for 15 minutes. "I did so and my mind wandered to my trek to Mansarovar and Mt Kailash," says Chandrashekaran. "The exercise helped me feel at peace with the world." Bhagat Singh Sajwan, a chauffer in Mumbai, was told about JGW by his employer's wife. Sajwan liked the idea and decided to give it a go. He drew the three of hearts: next time you are in an auto rickshaw, buy a cold drink for the driver. Since Sajwan doesn't travel by auto, he bought tea for five people : two sweepers, two drivers and one house help. "I felt very happy to have treated the taxi drivers to tea. They appreciated my good deed." What are you planning to do to spread a smile? You can 'shuffle the deck' and draw a card online.

Living so deeply in this field of inter-connectedness, the ripples followed us even at the meditation retreat itself.  I went with three other tiger-team members; one was my Dad, :) another was Ilonka, who has been the editor of Positive News US for the last eight years, and third was an 81-year-old who was the first person to invite me to give a public talk more than a decade ago.  At the end of the retreat, a random young woman comes up to me and asks if I’m Nipun.  It turns out that she used our wedding vows the previous month, just returned from her honeymoon and was sitting the retreat before restarting her work as a senior exec at Google.  Randomly overhearing our conversation, another woman said, “Oh, are you Nipun?  I’ve been getting your emails for years,” as she describes her experience of being tagged at Karma Kitchen and having a Smile Card in her wallet.  At breakfast on the last day, I sat next to a Hollywood actor whose sister was a Burmese nun for six years and spoke at our last SS retreat.

When one returns from serious meditation, its quite natural to take stock of one’s life and how one’s inner experience aligns with external actions.  And man, I simply could not feel more grateful for the way in which ServiceSpace continues to unfold.

One of the my emails was a forward from Kanchan, whose subject line excitedly read, “Best fan mail to date …”  It read: ”I did not know you are all volunteers!  Wow!   I think it is absolutely life-changing and hugely transformative, what you are all doing with these sites--- you have already started a revolution in the world, one that has been needed for so long! Thanks to the far-reaching arms of the internet, you are able to hold so many people's hearts and nourish them with kindness, goodness, love, compassion, and beauty. You help to remind people all over the world of so much Good that there IS, much more than the "bad" that there seems to be all over the news. Good outnumbers Bad everywhere--- we needed something like DailyGood and ServiceSpace and KarmaTube to remind us... we all need reminding. And i am so grateful to you volunteers behind the scenes who are DOING this for us all every day ... never doubt that you are changing lives, healing hearts, and reviving souls, every day, all over this beautiful world ... I can never thank you all enough. I rave and rave about what you guys have done, and i share with everyone i know ... God bless you all, who are making this movement continue in such a beautiful and loving way... From the deepest place in my heart and my soul, I thank you. The world thanks you.  Much love and gratitude.”

What a touching note.

A while back, I had shared Sowmya's story of sharing a bowl of cherries with her aunt and noticing that while she was wading through the bowl looking for good ones, her aunt was picking the bad ones so she could have good ones to eat.  On Google Plus, Jennifer wrote a comment on that story: "I had lunch out with my father the other day and focused on giving him the nice bits from a shared appetizer, remembering this story."

Jennifer is never going to get a Nobel Prize for that action, but that is exactly the kind of heroic action ServiceSpace supports.  Day in and day out.

I’m truly honored to be holding space for this emergence, with all of you.  Thank you.


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