A few weeks ago I decided to go to college, and a few days after that I graduated. As they say time’s fun when you are having flies. In the many years between, I ate a lot of cafeteria food. It really wasn’t that bad, actually – but most of my fellow students still argued over which tasted worse the dog biscuits or the reconstituted, dried, bird droppings.
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During my second year I met an older couple that invited me and a few other students over for a real meal at their house. Now that was some real eating there! The next week, I was invited back. I eventually discovered they had been inviting students for years, and I was invited to keep coming back indefinitely.
This was not just a weekly feast either. It was a complete home-away-from-home experience. Each week they let us pick what we wanted the next. They had a huge box of recipe cards that we would pick from and then the next week, they let us actually prepare the meals. They worked beside us, teaching us how to use kitchen gadgets I had never even seen before and teaching us techniques for making meals that I had never heard of much less considered tasting. I discovered that I loved many different Asian cuisines. I discovered that Mexican dishes tasted much better than they look, and best of all I learned how to cook these different types of meals. I loved cooking and had a great time.
I don’t think they were particularly wealthy. They had retired from the military. He seemed to be quite good with finances, but they lived in a modest (but immaculate) house. For all I know they gave all their money away. It kind of sounds like something they would have done. But, even if they had paid for my college, I doubt I could have appreciated their generosity more.
What they gave was a thousand times more valuable than money. The food tasted awesome, but that was not the real gift. They gave the gift of time and life experiences.
It is easy to say that time is money or that time is more valuable than money. It is easy to talk about quality time or argue for quantity of time, but this very special couple put all that talk into action. From them, I learned how to be generous – a lesson I could never learn from a book.
They gave a gift that changed my life and hopefully the lives of everyone I meet.
This is my contribution to Robert Hruzek’s world famous groupwrite project for December, What I Learned From… the Generosity of Others.