A tree blew over in the big wind and the story began.
As you are aware, we’ve had some pretty windy days even for this part of the prairie. Yes, we’re used to windy conditions, but, well, let’s just say, it’s been darn windy. Windy enough to blow down a tree that was standing between us and our neighbors.
Yes, the tree was elderly and a bit rotten but it was still a nice tree for bird nests and for viewing. Then, the wind decided it had been around long enough and blew it down — not gently but with great gusto and power. I guess that’s nature but here’s where Ubuntu comes into play.
I got together with my neighbor to discuss the removal of the debris and his little boy appeared and stood there beside his father. A handsome little fellow who reminded me of my sons and then a thought occurred.
There comes a time to let things go and, in our lives, that time is now. Looking at our neighbor’s son, I remembered playing basketball and football with my boys and was reminded of the balls I kept, well, just because. I asked the boy’s father if the little guy liked to play with balls and received a hearty affirmation.
I asked him to wait a moment and I went and got the basketball and football. As I gave them to the little guy, his face told how he felt and it made my letting go much easier. Yes, the balls are bigger than he but he’ll grow fast. I hope his father has as many memories of his son playing with those balls as I have of my sons playing with them.
We chatted for a bit and parted. It was during that evening when Ubuntu appeared.
I was enjoying an after dinner glass of a good Chardonnay and suddenly, there was the sound of a lawn mower very close to our house. What in the world? What’s happening?
Looking out the front door, I saw my neighbor mowing my lawn. He smiled at me and I returned the smile — enough said. What I was experiencing at that time was Ubuntu — an ancient South African belief that we exist in relationship with each other by showing the qualities of kindness, compassion, gentleness and generosity. Ubuntu is usually summed up in this phrase: “I am because we are.”
I drained my glass of Chardonnay and thought about what had just happened to me. My neighbor was living Ubuntu in his generosity of mowing my lawn. It felt good.
At one time or another, we’ve all heard or said something about the circle of life. That’s what Ubuntu is telling us, too. We exist because of something else or someone else and we’re meant — because of our humanity — to pass this existence filled with kindness, compassion, generosity and gentleness onto others.
It was recently my birthday and a bottle of a Francis Ford Coppola’s A Tavola Pinot Grigio was gifted to me. A Tavola means “at the table” in Italian and I fully enjoyed the full body citrus taste of this wine at our table. It was given to me out an act of kindness and generosity by a friend. Ubuntu!
I received a birthday card from one of my sons and his wife with the graphic entitled “The Circle of Life” — it showed a bold circle with the revolving captions of coffee and cocktails — now, THAT’S a circle of life!
To honor that card, I just had to prepare a Rob Roy cocktail — equal parts whiskey (your choice) and sweet vermouth with a couple dashes Angostura Bitters. I used single malt Scotch (Glen Moray) and toasted the circle of life. Naturally, later I had to have a cup of coffee to continue the circle and, by then, it was late in the day so the circle would have to continue the next day.
My neighbor’s act of generosity and my families Circle of Life card tells me Ubuntu exists today and I’m overwhelmingly pleased by their actions. We need more such actions today.
How can you or I further this circle of life philosophy? Well, maybe share a bottle of wine with your neighbor — just do it as an act of Ubuntu. Work together to clean up a mess created by nature — like cleaning up a fallen tree. Using the proper social techniques of masking and distancing, talk with a family member, friend or neighbor who could use a boast — Ubuntu!
Let’s all simply reach out with compassion, humanity, gentleness and generosity because we’re all in this together. I am because we are.
As always, eat and drink in moderation but laugh with reckless abandon!