It is truly a shame that some things change with time, beautiful architecture, dancing hand-in-hand with a partner, the innocence of youth. But other things shouldn’t change with time, ever. One of the things I have noticed that has changed markedly since my childhood is grace, how someone carries oneself, and graciousness, or how someone puts themselves out for others.
Recently I was invited with my family to a friend’s ranch in Sonoma County, California. A sprawling place of meadows, mountains, trees and wildlife. An inviting black-bottomed pool resides in a 5 acre field, all by itself, luring you to swim. On our second day there I asked my friend, our host, what had happened to the many, many friends that used to be invited to the ranch to recreate over the years. I knew they were all around, but yet in the last ten years at the ranch I had seen less and less of them all. Her answer, although somewhat disturbing, didn’t surprise me at all. It seems that after being invited to this lovely enchanting place for many years running, I, and my family, were the only ones to have ever really reciprocated her many invitations.
Now I know that few people have 400 acre ranches in Sonoma, me being one of them, but people do have homes, apartments, bar and restaurants dates, and dinner parties to invite people to. And it is distressing that so few people realize that when someone puts themselves out in terms of offering to share something of their own, for the mutual enjoyment of all, it would be nice to have that favor reciprocated once in a while. But to never reciprocate in any fashion? That just lacks grace, and graciousness.
There was a time, before the internet, before cable TV, and before people jetted around the globe willy-nilly, that people of means, and people of little means mingled together socially. There was little of the, “us-and-them” mentality that seams to pervade the common media these days. “Luxury”, and “glamour” are now the way for people who have “made it”, and not for the lowly common folk who god forbid clamour to get out of their modest circumstances. Why give these lowly people the taste of any type of luxury? You know it would be better for them if they just didn’t know how good it is here at the top.
My childhood was spent with many types of folk, rich and poor, successful people drinking and smoking cigarettes and cigars (two things I am glad to see only in my memory) alongside of their less well-to-do relatives and friends, sharing stories and experiences away from their workplaces, A time where the measure of a man, or woman, was what they had accomplished outside of work whether that was battling the forces of nature on some adventure, or successfully running a charity for the local church or school. You were once assessed by what you were as a total person, not just as a worker, or boss.
Grace was how you comported yourself around those you knew and loved, and how you gave of yourself to the betterment of all. Graciousness was the reciprocity given back to those who gave of themselves for the generosity of their grace.
Sitting there that day by the pool, in the field in Sonoma, with three other families, I resigned myself to write on this subject to hopefully start a new trend toward old ways. Drop the Facebook garbage and start communicating again. Start having people over for drinks, for dinner, or go to the beach with family friends. Inclusion is what it’s all about, we all love to get an invitation in the mail. Whether that invite is for a birthday or just tea at a home of a friend, to be included feels good. It is always good to keep in mind that things financially aren’t always that good for everyone at the same time, and your grace and graciousness today may have pleasant repercussions should the tide turn against you. It has always worked that way for me.
Thank god for good friends.
PS: Don’t forget a Thank You note, it shows good grace.
Posted on September 13, 2010