"Make me sweet again, fragrant and fresh and wild, and thankful for any small gesture." -- Rumi
On a snowy day in New York City, I jumped into a cab and in a hurry asked the driver, "Please take me as fast as you can. I can't be late for my appointment."
The cab driver very kindly turned to me and said, "I'll do my best, but your safety is more important to me than going fast." He was an older man with such a kind presence that touched my heart.
On the window dividing us was a life achievement certificate for his service to his passengers. I was curious and asked him about it, and he said, "Driving in the city is a battlefield. It seems like everyone is out for themselves. You fight every day. But," he went on, "I treat every passenger that comes as someone very valuable."
We ended up chatting about the city, the people, and life. Before I knew it, we had arrived. I thanked him for the ride and tipped him generously.
"You are such a sweet lady," he said to me, "Women in New York have become too much like men. I have daughters, and I say to them 'Be sweet, don't be like men.'" He turned to me, looked at me and said, "Don't ever lose your sweetness."
I shook his hand and told him he'd made my day, and he said, "You've made mine." As he drove away, I teared up at this spontaneous and heartfelt exchange. Clearly, I had come across a very caring human being.
This encounter stirred up something in me that I have been wanting to write about. Why is it that we women start to loose touch with our sweetness and deny that part of ourselves?
When we are children we are innately filled with sweetness. As we grow up we are socially trained to replace that quality with a drive for achievement, and the need to belong starts to compromise who we are in our essence. Gradually, our sweetness is replaced by our external personas and the image we project in the world.
Even when we try to walk the spiritual path, our most devoted practices that lack sweetness can leave us dry like the dessert. Unless our heart is in any kind of spiritual practice, we can very well miss the point. A moment of loving and sweetness can help us connect back to ourselves.
Sweetness often gets a bad rap and is seen as a weakness. If a man is sweet, he is described as effeminate, and if a woman is sweet, she is deemed weak and not sexy. Well, I think sweetness is the new sexy. Consider how we cry at movies during scenes that touch the heart, but then emerge into our lives and tuck that emotion away so we can survive in our competitive world. After all no one puts on their resume "I preserved my sweetness" and is hired for it.
And yet, the fastest way to someone's heart is to be sweet to them. Maybe the reason we all crave and love sweets is because we all crave to taste the sweetness of life...
It's so important that we do not become bitter when we do not get what we want or because the men we marry turn out to be different from what we expected, or we have a bad breakup, or a job falls through. On the other hand, when we do get what we want and succeed, it is important that we do not become harsh, aggressive, and disconnected from our true nature of our feminine spirit in order to maintain that success.
Underneath all of our interactions lies the heart, which longs to be authentically seen, known, shared, welcomed, and accepted. There is nothing more intoxicating than the gift of an open heart and human warmth. These are the natural gifts that keep on giving, and there is a never ending well from which we can all draw. I think this is part of the reason people fall in love when they go to Greece -- there is an outpouring of warmth and caring that you feel down to your bones.
When my dad was at the last phase of his life, I watched a man who I had known and loved, who had demonstrated the qualities of Zeus, Poisedon, and Hades, asserting his power with a volatile temperament, transform into a sweet and vulnerable man. But isn't it a shame to wait until the end of your life to experience the sweetness that we all came into the world with? So share your sweetness to those you meet each day. By sharing your sweetness, you will inevitably attract it ten-fold. You'll start to feel so abundant.
Don't miss this moment by hurrying too quickly to get to the next thing and the next thing. What matters, and what makes us feel alive, is that we pause to savor the sweetness of life and of each other. Don't hide it. As Rumi said, "Find the sweetness in your own heart, that you might find it in every heart."
Share with me: How do you share your sweetness, and how can you experience more of it?
I'll be speaking more about sweetness and the power of unconditional love at the New York Society for Ethical Culture on Wednesday, February 26. You can also visit me here at http://unbindingtheheart.com.