It was the look on his face when I told him it was free…
” No really, kid, you can have this. Enjoy, and remember to share it with someone special.” I said with a wink and a smile waving goodbye while trying to hide the fact that this 16 year old kid had just changed my life forever with one simple look.
He came aboard The Free Tea Bus at Last Thursday in Portland. He was reluctant, yet curious. “Is this really for free?” He asked before coming aboard with 2 friends in tow. “Yep! We’ve got homemade cupcakes and cinnamon rolls too.” I say playing the tea hostess. They came in and sat down taking the warm cups of The Fairytale Blend I had ready to go. Asking for their story, the young man goes on to tell me that him and one of his friends with him had just graduated a drug rehab center nearby. ” Congratulations! ” I shouted trying to take in the information. Feeling stunned. I would’ve never thought… Here were these teenagers, that given their appearance, I would’ve pinned them for being a part of a youth group of some sort. Maybe this is true also, but the reality was that this young man had already been through a certain amount of experience, and by age 16. My heart went out.
I didn’t ask about their stories with the drugs or which drugs. What kind, didn’t matter and something told me to lay off the subject and just enjoy whatever they wanted to share. So I did. To be honest, I don’t remember much about it. I don’t even remember their names. However, does that matter when his face is emblazoned in my memory? Though his name forgotten, his face remains famous in my inner world.
In our last exchange before they left the bus, is when it happened. “Do you mind if I could have a little bit of this tea to take with me?” He asked. “You know what? I’ll do you one better. Let me make you up a few bags of this to have more than just one cup for later. One condition though, you have to share.” Is all I remember saying before I saw his eyes light up before me, triggering the rest of his face to light up in a way that reached deep into my Soul and said, “Ally, this is why you are alive. This look right here, is all that matters…just remember.”
As I made up the bags, I was taken back to countless memories flowing through me of that same look in the eyes of others I had come to pass throughout my life, including myself. What did these looks all have in common? They were the look of pure, innocent happiness. Why? They came from experiences when a person felt the freedom and joy to be who they are without having to earn it. It usually came in times of receiving an unexpected gift or favor. Those experiences of spontaneous generosity that leave the person on the receiving end feeling an ease about themselves. It’s an ease I can only describe like this – when a person feels the deep satisfaction to be who they are and that is ‘good enough.’ I am… simply enough, to receive whatever it is that is being given in this moment. I don’t have to work for it. I don’t have to do something first to earn it. I don’t need to “DO” anything. I am just me and look at what Life is giving me for just showing up:)
Already feeling highly inspired from Rootstalk, this solidified that inspiration into something more concrete. I had just spent a week serving free tea and seeing countless looks like his, but for some reason it took his to make me understand why the idea of giving something for free had me feeling so good. So what did I do with all this inspiration? I sat with it… for a bit. I needed to reflect on it all – What Can I Do? or is it really all about just “being me,” or maybe there is a balance? So I headed north to a little island known as San Juan. A place and a home that became the stage for one of my most memorable transformations of my life thus far. Here, I knew I could get some good R&R from the hustle and bustle of festival living, traveling and cities. Which I had spent the past 2 1/2 weeks in having made a stop in Seattle to visit my community of friends there.
While on the island, the idea of “Free” kept coming to mind. What does it mean to freely give…of anything? My last few days on the island is when it all became clear. The question of ” What Can I Do?” began being answered…and I’m not sure where it will go or what it all means. All I know right now is, it is the beginning of something. Something inside of me that I can’t deny sharing with the world. Whatever it is. Whatever it becomes. Whatever I choose to do with it, or not do – I am, simply being me.
Here’s to be Being Who We Are -Freely!