I heard this story at a graduation ceremony last month and thought it was worth sharing.
Poet David Whyte tells this story: At his home on Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound, he decides to host many friends for a weekend. As the guests begin to arrive, he stands at the door ready to greet them. Eagerly by his side is his young daughter, who has worked with him for many days to prepare the home, cook the appetizers, and clean her room. Yet as friends arrive, her shyness takes over, and she hides behind David, clutching his legs, peering through them and around them at times, smiling tentatively to different guests.
Whyte recalls seeing an old friend approach. Someone he says had, over the years, grown very cynical. Whyte describes cynicism as fierce disappointment that looks for further, future disappointed. A cynical person almost eagerly waits to be disappointed by others and by life. As this old friend approached the door, David felt his daughter clutch his legs more tightly and crush her face into the back of his legs, not wanting to look out. His daughter relaxed, and the man disappeared into the house. Soon after another of David’s old friend appears on the path, one who he describes as having a face that beams with warmth and generosity. David’s daughter, who had never met this man before flew from her father, ran down the path and jumped into his arms, where they proceeded to laugh and chat with great joy.
Later that day, David walked into his living room and saw this man sitting on one side of the fireplace, and his friend who had grown cynical on the other side. And he thought about his cynical friend, “He does not even know what has not run out to meet him…”
He does not even know what has not run out to meet him…
Be curious, be generous and expect the best from people.