Pourers and Drinkers

Last weekend, I took Jasper out to a fancy dinner to celebrate his first B. I never rewarded our kids for good grades, never had to cajole them to strive for them, never sat down to help with homework. My sole contribution to the studying scene was “Do you have homework? Would you like a snack?”. That…and despite desks in every room in the house, not complaining when 95% of it occurred at the red kitchen table which had to be cleared every night for supper. Never gave out money for A’s…but we would often go out to eat at the end of a semester, and we certainly celebrated Emerald’s first B. A B is a rite of passage. It teaches that knowledge is not all about just working hard. Emerald’s first B was in Trig, Jasper’s in Literature. It fits.

At dinner, we pondered the word “deserve”. That particular blog post has fostered far more discussion, both with him and with friends, than perhaps all the others combined. The discussion with Jasper morphed into the idea of people who are givers, and people who are takers. He pointed out that perhaps a better analogy is pourers and drinkers. I like that! Think about it. If we are open, the universe fills our pitchers. We can pour, or we can drink.

When I was in Paraguay for the Peace Corps, I spent many an afternoon sitting with the locals and drinking terere. Terere is an iced yerba maté drink. An iced pitcher of herbed water is poured over mate packed into a guampa (cup), and a bombilla (strainer straw) is inserted to drink out of. The youngest in the group begins the pouring, and the terere is passed clockwise around the group. Whomever drains the guampa, pours for the next person. If you are sick, or have had your fill, you refrain from drinking, and the guampa is not passed to you again during the session. Lots of talk, steady sipping, taking a turn at pouring…..and the hot afternoon would pass. Greedy gulping just meant you had to pour more…and guzzling mate is never a good idea, it’s pretty strong stuff. Paraguay may have been a developing nation with a corrupt government at that point, but the people were genuine and generous. Their rituals reflected that.

After several courses of really good food, Jasper and my conversation wandered into chaos theory and the ripple effect. Kind of like karma, if a person does good things, then good things spread and come back to them. The model works well…as long as one thinks about life as a calm clear pool. My life is more like a river, and the wind often blows. If I huck a huge stone into the river, it creates ripples. But those ripples come back somewhere downstream, or the wind erases them. I may be floating along in the river, or standing on the bank, or attempting to cross using an upstream ferry angle. Life doesn’t fit into neat theories and models…and I love the mystery.

Over dessert, we asked the harder questions. The hows…and the whys. How did I get to be the luckiest mom in the universe? Why did my kids end up with an internal drive to work hard and do their best? What drives some people to open their pitchers wide, and pour goodness into the world? Why are compassion and empathy elements of almost every world religion? How can we be aware if something is luck, or an effect? I don’t know…its a mystery….and knowledge of this kind doesn’t come from merely working hard.

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