Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ask This Question

Sometimes the flair you experience isn't your own.  Sometimes, the flair for the day is the flair you helped make happen for somebody else.

In the words of my wise hairdresser:  Sometimes you are in the spotlight, and sometimes you are the spotlight.  It's better to be a spotlight.  When I'm a spotlight, I'm shining light on another person, making a flair moment happen for them.

This is harder than it sounds.  First of all, I tend towards narcissism.  I tend to be overly self-involved, self-concerned, self-reflective.  When this happens, when I'm the center of my own universe, I can always tell.  I turn into a completely different person.  Every conversation is about me.  I interrupt to tell you about my experience, and I reflect on your words only insofar as they relate to something I'm thinking about.  I hate this person.

Today, during my haircut, I talked about how to make flair happen for others.  I wondered what it would look like to take my eyes off of myself and my day in order to deliberately create an extraordinary moment for someone else.   I knew the truth of this practice:  we are often most fulfilled when we are serving others.  It's wired into our DNA to find ourselves when we give ourselves away.

But how?

In any given day, I can be a spotlight by asking this question:

Is there anything I can do to help make this day extraordinary for you?   It's a long question, I realize.

So the flair for the day is this question I resolved to ask.  I started with my cat.  I leaned down and asked her, "Is there anything I can do to help make this day extraordinary for you?"

She brought me the yellow rope (see "A Rope and a Smile).  Easy.  I ran around the living room with this rope for a few minutes.  That wasn't so bad.   It even felt good. 

Later, after preschool, I asked my daughter:  "Is there anything I can do to help make this day extraordinary for you?"  I thought she'd mention Disney World.  I thought she'd bring out the list of wishes from every toy store she's ever visited.  I knew, I just knew that Polly Pocket would be involved.  I scrunched up my face and closed my eyes, ready for the worst.

"Yes!" she shrieked.

She leaned forward to shout in my ear as I drove.  "I want more of those envelopes.  The licking kind." 

"Why the licking kind?" 

"Well, we can send a letter, I can lick the envelope and send it, and they'll know I licked it."

Amazing, this concept.   

I looked at her eager eyes and clasped hands.  She was bouncing in her car seat.  "I can do that," I said.  Easy.  I just made another creature happy.  It cost me nearly nothing.  

What marriages would thrive, what friendships preserved, what wars averted if more people set out to make somebody else have an extraordinary day?

Living with flair means being a spotlight and making a great show for somebody else.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

oh Lordy now I'm reading your blog instead of proofreading my paper! AH!

Jennifer Dowlin-Kelly said...

I used to do this for my husband! I'd ask him what one thing he'd like me to do for him that day and he'd tell me and I'd do it. Usually it was a small task, but it meant a lot to him.
I will start doing that again for him, but maybe for an extra person each day... I LOVE this flair!

JoAnn Foley-DeFiore said...

brilliance! I particularly enjoyed the honesty, which lent to the overall beauty.
:)