The woman in the kitchen looked like a cross between my paternal grandmother and Swami Radhananda, the president and spiritual director of the Ashram. What an odd combination, I thought, as usually it’s my maternal grandmother who I get reminded of in association with things Ashram. This woman wasn’t the only person I seemed to recognize walking through that kitchen. It was the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Merryspring Centre, one of the places I volunteer. Usually I’m rummaging through lavender plants looking to root out weeds and undesirables when offering my time and energy to this organization but today I was playing “hostess.” Eight houses in the area were being offered up for nosy neighbours to buy a ticket to see and wander through. Restaurants in the area jumped up to get their name out there, supporting the centre, and feeding the hoards. This year’s annual Kitchen Tour seems to have been a success.
I was stationed near the back entrance of the loop in a 1820’s house. It wasn’t necessarily my idea to be placed so inconspicuously though, in working with the dynamic I tend to have with middle-aged women, I wasn’t about to overpower my co-volunteer and respond with any domineering ideas of my own. (Oh wait, isn’t that exactly what I’ve recently resolved to do? Oops. Old habits die hard.) So as the people wandered through the kitchen, clutching their tiny rations of mock-tails and gumbo in disposable dishes, I caught their eye in order to direct the flow. They would wander out and gaze at the old pictures along the wall, some people recognizing the local area and others simply oogling the amount of trees that used to be in the area they inhabit on their vacations.
As I looked through the crowds of people that would ebb and flow throughout the three hours or so I was there I couldn’t help but see people I “recognized”. Is this a sign I need to amp up my social outflow? I’ve been meeting people more and more lately and settling into this side of the continent, yet all day I saw people that reminded me of others.
I took it as an opportunity to bring forward the best in myself. Sure, here I was directing botox-filled tourists through a lazy summer’s day activity, but there’s no need to judge. I can treat every person the way I would my grandmother or teacher.
There are so many different ways to be in this world. We can all be searching after different things like money, fancy houses (such as the one I found myself in), fast cars or trendy accessories, and we all have to answer for ourselves what makes life fulfilling. For me it’s being a kind and considerate person. Those are the traits I wish to bring forward and that is where my energy goes. Sure, I’ll fall short and then I’ll keep working on it. Life is, after all, a succession of moments rather than a single sliver of time.