As I was driving my daughter Sommer to the airport for her return to college after a long weekend home, she was admiring my new watch. This was the first new timepiece I’d had in at least a decade. I really enjoyed looking at its shiny steel-and-black face, and as I did, I’d think about how this was my favorite watch of all time. Yet I knew in my heart that Sommer would love to wear it, since men’s watches seemed to be the current craze for young women.
As I dropped her off at the curb and assisted her with her luggage, I was prompted to remove the watch and give it to her, even though it was my most prized possession (particularly since I have almost no possessions any longer that I even care about, let alone prize).
Sommer’s response was, “No, Dad, you love this watch!”
I insisted, telling her that I’d feel greater joy by giving it to her and knowing she’d treasure it. I also felt that it would symbolize our staying together in time, even though we’d be thousands of miles apart. She boarded her plane glowing, and I left feeling that I had grown immeasurably as a person, since such a compassionate act would have been very difficult, if not impossible, for me several years ago.
Sommer called me in Maui a few months later to tell me that she was sending me a present, stressing that it was a very, very special gift. It turned out to be her all-time favorite painting that she’d created and had hung in her apartment for a long time. As she told me later: “I really learned something the day you gave me your beloved watch, and I wanted to give you something that’s my single most precious item. I’m giving it to you, Dad, even though it’s difficult to part with, because I want you to have a piece of me that I love with you.”
The painting hangs proudly on my wall as a symbol of the beauty and perfection of reaching out compassionately in response to a felt moment. By being and living compassion, you invite and encourage others, just by your example, to choose to do the same.