Friday, June 26, 2015

Wrapped Around My Finger

Last fall, a woman was referred to me through a colleague I hadn't seen in a long time. It was one of those introductions that happen where, in the moment just after you meet, you say to yourself, "what was that all about?" Her energy was bubbling and elegant and she looked 20 years younger than her age. While she is of the air, I am clearly of the earth. Our styles were so very different that I felt odd next to her, like a bull in a china shop. I was fascinated by what our purpose was in this meeting. I gathered that she was talented in many ways, but it was her artistry as a jeweler and her passion to help people connect that was coming through most clearly. As could be expected, the conversation quickly went off track from its original purpose of showing her my office space. That clearly was not what was meant to be here. Before I knew it, I was telling her that I was in search of a life-partner and struggling with the process. She looked down at her hands and she pulled off a thin, gold ring. She asked to see my hands so I held them out. She placed the first ring back on her finger and took off another one that looked the same. She told me it was her signature love knot and that I should wear it on my left hand. She explained that because I was someone who gave out a lot, I should wear it on my receiving hand, not my doing hand. I was stunned at the generosity of this woman whom I had just met. Here she was handing me a delicate, handmade, gold ring and was more or less promising me that I would meet someone. I had no sense that she was expecting something in return. 

That night I rode the train home and looked at the ring with gratitude, awe and delight at the unusual encounter, and then...confusion. If I wore a gold ring on my left ring finger wouldn't it look like I was married? How would I possibly meet someone that way? For a week I wore it with greater and greater bewilderment. I soon started changing hands, sometimes wearing it on my right out of fear and sometimes on my left. I felt silly at my bafflement, but it wouldn't go away. Though I was afraid of sounding ungrateful, I did finally text her and expressed my perplexed feeling. Her simple text back said that I should wear the ring on whichever hand felt right in the moment. If I felt like giving, put it on my right and receiving, on my left. So that's what I did and I wore it consistently.

This post isn't about whether I met the man of my dreams. Sorry to leave you hanging. This is what I ultimately learned after several months with this ring...I stopped being so concerned about what it would mean to others. Appearing married or not did not matter. Instead, I found myself genuinely asking what I needed in the moment I was putting it on. In the moments I felt needing of love, support, help, energy I would place it on my left. That part was clear. It felt like I was taking care of myself and that alone was a welcomed reminder. What became far more interesting over time was what it meant to wear the ring on my right. I realized that there were many times I felt needing of something, but the "right" action still felt like to wear it on my giving hand. Thinking about it now, I am often "needing" something, but I know it isn't necessarily getting the something that quenches the need. It is often in giving that I am truly fed. Of course, I don't mean giving from a place of emptiness, or from a desire to be "good," or martyr-like, or giving ultimately to get something back. It is not goal oriented in that way. I know now that when I start thinking in some contracted way about my life -- trying to figure out details, or wondering how things will work out, or what needs to be done, or whether I  am enough (to myself or anyone else), I have gone under, like a turtle going inside its shell and seeing only itself. In that place, I have stopped seeing and taking part in an exchange of giving and receiving. Now, when I move the ring to my giving hand, it is the simplest reminder to open up, to look around, to see the eyes of the people around me on the train, on line, in the store. I am asked to awaken, to be present and to see the depth of life around me and to appreciate this very life as it is. In that very basic act, I give -- it comes in the form of acknowledging another, in the simple meeting of eyes or a smile, in genuinely listening to someone, in taking in the beauty of the red sky at sunset. I understand that "giving" is all of that. When we are present, we naturally give.

This ring still alternates hands. In case you are wondering, yes, I did meet the man I was looking for. How could I not? I had a ring on my finger showing me the way and he was literally around the corner. My understanding of wanting, needing, giving, and receiving will never be the same. I know now that when I am open and in the moment, there is no separation between them. In her own form, this radiant woman, who visited me in my office, had this understanding and she passed it on in a ring.