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Adorning Your Spirit; Ryan's Well

Posted Jan 07 2009 2:58pm
Every morning we all wake up and ready ourselves for the world. We get ready for work, or get ready to go out somewhere, or, really, do everything that we can to make ourselves more "presentable." We practice some type of physical adornment. We take great care to be clean, to wear clothes we feel good in, and if you are a woman, you probably wear some form of cosmetics. A lot of men and women wear cologne. All these things we do to make ourselves more attractive to others.

I wonder what would happen if we took as much time, thought, and care to making our spirits more attractive each day. What would happen if we forgot about spending so much time adorning our physical bodies and, instead, adorned our spirit? It's an interesting thought.

Being the up-front/out-there gal that I am, I have been extraordinarily up front about the fact that I now have a colostomy and the thoughts and feelings that went along with that when it first happened to me. I want to let others know who will walk this path that they are not alone in their thoughts, feelings, and struggles in this regard. You do get past it and over time you do start to minimize all those awful feelings you experience. You realize that's not who you are.

At first, the very idea of a colostomy horrified me. I felt it would change my entire life .. change who I am, how I relate to people, and my entire way of being, socially and otherwise. With a little time and patience, though, and the care of beloved friends, I am back to my pragmatic self, and know those initial thoughts are not true. Now that I am used to it, I can tell you it's not a big deal. What a surprise that was to me. This is a surprise I like. How I define myself and others is always my choice. I believe that true beauty is when we take the focus off ourselves and make life better for others.

One of my favorite true stories is about Ryan Hreljac.

When Ryan Hreljac was in the first grade, his teacher told his class that people were dying because they didn't have clean water to drink. Ryan set out to raise money for those who didn't have clean drinking water. For 4 months he did chores and odd jobs and eventually earned the first $70 which turned into a well at a school in Uganda. That well, to this day, serves thousands of people. Ryan was seven years old.

Ryan's $70 turned into a foundation that has grown to a total contribution of 461 wells in 16 countries, bringing clean water and sanitary conditions to over half a million people. The foundation has to date raised millions of dollars. You can read more about Ryan here:

I believe that Ryan adorned his spirit. And, when he did this, he made the world better for others. He was completely selfless, and I have a hunch that when those half million people were drinking clean water they did not once wonder about Ryan's hairstyle or attire. In the end, those things were not important. Ryan stepped out of himself and any self-involvement he might have, and focused on the needs of others. That's truly beautiful.

When I look at Ryan and others like him, it inspires me to be a better human, to look not at myself or my own self perceptions, or even dwell on any disability I may perceive I have. Remember, Ryan did all this when he was 7 years old. His heart led him to work on something that has grown into something unspeakably beautiful.

When I teach meditation techniques to others, one exercise we practice is "No Head" meditation. I ask each participant to see themselves removing their head, sitting it gingerly beside them on the floor, and to focus on their heart. To actually give eyes and ears to their heart. To feel instead of see. When we see, it is much easier for the ego to take over. When we feel, that's real. Anyone can practice this.

So, tomorrow morning, when you get up, instead of focusing on the traditional ways of getting ready, look to your spirit. Will you fluff up your mood so that those around you are happier? Will you let your heart do the thinking about ways you can make life happier, easier for someone else? Or, will you feel to do something nice, anonymously ... for someone else? Will you let your heart lead you?

I will freely admit that I don't always do this, and so this is a good reminder to me, too - to be more beautiful to be around, to be more beautiful in my ways of giving. To take focus off of 'me' and turn it into 'we.'

Tomorrow, be like 7 year old Ryan. Think of ways to be of service to others, knowing that sometimes being of service is as easy as offering a smile to one who needs it.

When you get up in the morning adorn your spirit. Once you do, all the rest of life will fall into place. This, my friends, I can promise you.

It will bring out a beauty in you that you never knew you had. Nothing else matters.

Postscript/Props: Josh, Scott - This one's for both of you, because I witness you both personify the idea of selflessness in different ways, unique to each of you, often. Thanks for the daily example.
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