One of the Gandhi 3.0 volunteers smiled, waved and welcomed me like a best friend. His face glowed with delight as he looked at me.
I was happy to see him too, although I was a little nervous because I couldn’t remember his name. I smiled back, waved, and then clenched my jaw and muttered like a ventriloquist to Jerry, or Mandy, or Khush, “What’s that guy’s name again?”
“Kishan,” one of them would stage-whisper.
I’d say to myself, “Okay, remember it Bonnie, KISHAN. It’s like ‘cushion with a key’ – Key-shan, KISHAN.
Eventually I got it.
The thing about Kishan, was that even as I was struggling to learn his name, he knew my dog’s name. Seriously. Granted her name is Saraswati, a Hindu Goddess. Granted I showed him a memorable picture of my dog dressed up as a nun. But not only did Kishan know my dog’s name, he celebrated it.
In our wanderings through Ahmedabad, occasionally we would encounter an image of Saraswati, the goddess. Kishan would point and say “Saraswati!” like he had discovered gold. Then he’d ask me to pose for a picture.
I delight in my dogs. My delight became his delight. His delight became mine as I wondered “Who is this magical person who bellows ‘Saraswati’ just to make me smile?” Feeling seen and heard, my delight became a circle of delight.
Our last evening in India, we had a community night. We opened the retreat to friends and family. Kishan showed up with his wife and child.
I saw the truth, as I realized: This man has devoted himself to knowing me, to serving me. I could barely even learn his name. Now I see clearly. He has a full life of his own. He has joys, sorrows, hopes, and plans. He has a family that depends on him. Yet he offered weeks of his time to show up in precious delight. He stood behind a camera and took a thousand pictures of us. He selflessly celebrated our dogs’ names, the details of our lives, without regard for his own need to be seen and heard. This is priceless. This is who I want to be.
I hope I can repay the debt of delight I owe to Kishan by paying it forward, through devotion or attention or delight in others.
I think of Kishan almost every day when I hike in the mountains of Ojai. My dog runs after a rabbit and I bellow “Saraswati!” Sometimes, I add a prayer of gratitude by whispering “Kishanji! – I know your name now. I see you and I hear you. Thank you for delighting me with your delight.” And so it is.
What would it be like to spend a day, a week, or a lifetime delighting in the delights of others?