The Great Gatsby Smile
by bryan maynard
The ability to be present includes being present to the person in front of me. I enjoy this description of Gatsby’s smile from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby:
“He smiled understandingly–much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurances in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced–or seemed to face–the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on ‘you’ with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”
There are two things that characterize the person who can be fully present to another human being:
1. They have overcome the lower impulse to ‘change people.’ The wise fools among us have enough personal victories over this lower impulse to bring rest to the moment of interaction. You can reach out and touch it in the air between yourself and the person who has this inner freedom. Ghandi changed people by not having to change anybody. It isn’t love until there’s ability to be with a person without changing them. This doesn’t mean we trust everyone to be safe.
2. They have learned there is only one thing to do. Only one (not two like my list here :). Jesus, Buddha, Ghandi, Confucius all said the same thing: great compassion is the only thing to do. The heart of the woman who believes it is justice to do compassion to the next person and the next, starting with herself, is a person who leaves us with a gift called solidarity. Solidarity is the ability to connect with our spirit in a humanizing way, and this gift of union overcomes that gnawing, dehumanizing sense of separateness we all feel from things and people. So, scratch out number one on this list and make this a list of one.
You are loved.
This is the truest thing about you…
🙂 (see the awesome strength in this smile? LOL )