I have been thinking about the word collaboration a lot lately. And no, not just because of politics and the paucity of compromise in the world. A simple look at a wish list has opened a month of serious and hilarious contemplation. Once again, it was that evil genius Amazon . Amazon my personal Buddhist assault against taking a pause. Amazon tempting me at every turn whispering you might like this...
Amazon, apparently, also wants us to accept personal responsibility. Amazon wants me to know I am not an innocent pawn in their quest for world domination. This is how I how I know: While I was looking at my great nephews Christmas wish list, varied, fun and practical (and no, I will never be the one who decides on the socks... I don’t think Jackson asked Santa for those:)). Immediately upon opening the new wish list, I got two emails; and I mean immediately. Two people were removing themselves from the wish list. They no longer were collaborating with Jackson’s list. They were instantly called, I felt the judgment, I felt a public shaming for those two women, and yes they were named. Then I laughed.
I have been laughing about collaborators all month with my sister. We now notice the brave people who remove themselves from a list; we are not that bold, but we admire the courage. But the question has remained, can we work together, is collaboration in our nature, or does it devolve automatically into a plan to get your own way.
Well, yesterday I think I got some real answers,
from a source truly at the height of Id driven behavior. I celebrated Chinese New Year with JT and Margaret, two two-year-olds. I highly recommend this. JT is three in June, Margaret turned two this past October, they are still very much at the age when months count. JT is a boy, very talkative, and runs a color commentary of everything he does. He is a master of self affirmation, and delights in his world. Margaret is a girl, she cares for her baby Stella with a tenderness that brings tears to my eyes. She is quieter by mature, but physically brave. She takes everything in. They both love my dog Hooper, but are quite different. These differences do not matter a bit. Here is what JT and Margaret taught me:
Rocks are a common ground.
They can come out of the bowl with the candle and be put in other bowls, a dump truck, hot wheel cases, baby stroller, hats, pockets. Rocks can be carried around, shared, paused over for admiration, or shoved under the couch if it was lack luster. Rocks need time, much like collaboration.
Rocks are everywhere, and it is apparent they are symbol of all things around us that we take for granted.
It all depends on what you call it.
I bring out my big old box of stamp pads.
What fun, so many different sizes and types, what a mess when dumped out. Or is it? JT dumped the box out, three adults think “pita to clean up.” JT lets out a delighted “I made pile”. Margaret looks over with a smile of sheer admiration. The stamps really are easier to see, and it is a a great pile; an all around victory. Margaret is all in sorting, stacking. and stamping.
We can share a small space with grace and smiles: The best lesson of the day, the chalkboard painted garage door in the foyer. A narrow door, not a lot of height little ones can get too easily, drawing area at a premium. Not a lot of trouble for these little Buddha nature’s.
Pick a side, and start drawing, erase when necessary,
accepting the impermanent nature of chalk art. Smile, chat and point out a particularly good squiggle or use of color. From time to time , let out a good belly laugh. Sit together and just be, there is no rush. There is enough room for both of us.
And when, the drawing is done, sit together and enjoy one last shared yogurt snack, noticing and admiring that JT got a spork, instead of a spoon. Margaret is totally fine with her pink spoon, just happily curious and aware. And JT was hey a spork, that’s something new to report on.
So I start the new year with a new appreciation for collaboration. It’s not forced public cooperation, it’s not screaming across political aisles, it’s not even working hard to find compromise. What my terribly terrific two year olds showed me was true collaboration is appreciating and using you own gifts and combining them with someone else’s gifts . The Magic happens when we stop forcing. Rocks can be gently put to bed in a case. A pile is not a mess, it’s an abundance. A small chalkboard is better than no chalk board, so let’s share. In 2020, Year of the Rat, let’s work and dance together in spirit of joyful collaboration. Let us share our small world with grace. I intend to create piles of abundance, give smiles of admiration, indulge in more belly laughs, and yes take the time to admire all the rocks along the way.