Walking on the street with a bottle of soft drink in my hand at midnight after party time, I noticed a stranger on the opposite side of the road, a very old woman who was silently collecting the waste from public dustbins. After a few minutes of hesitation, I came closer, took out a banknote and told her:
– Ma’am, it’s not much but… please, please receive this money. It’s too late now. Let’s come back home.
– No, thank you. I don’t take money for free. I collect recycle stuff for selling. If you finish your water bottle, please kindly give it to me.
She replied me with the sad eyes but a calm and peaceful voice. I was completely dumbfounded.
It was the poorest moment when I really realized money did not bring long-lasting happiness to the others and to me. Her self-esteem and my shallow generosity made me start to question about the meaning of giving and receiving, about charity and volunteer works, about human psychology and behaviour, about sustainable solutions, about everything I can think about.
The spiritual signification of a gift is dependent not on the amount given but rather on the attitude with which is given. We sometimes give and share to satisfy the ego then unintentionally strengthen the self-centeredness.
The more I have chance to travel and work in less-developed areas where people have more joy than money, the more I feel how poor I am. There are still so many places to go, so many people to help and so many things to learn.