Although this true story is a bit off base, it is all about what we do, and why we do it. BGI is a fertilizer company. We manufacture, market, distribute and merchandise fertilizer. That is what we do. But that is not why we do it. That is not what inspires and motivates us every day. The “Why” is beauty. Beauty cannot be lost. Time does not diminish it. The garden and landscape are perhaps beauty’s greatest masterpieces. BGI people believe that beauty is integral to our lives – not unlike love. Without it the world becomes stark, cold, grey and utterly unbearable. All too often we experience this phenomenon, and it is exhausting. For me this lack of beauty often manifests itself in human form, and the best way I can describe the experience is a black hole vortex. Just such an encounter happened recently.
After being literally “hung-up-on” by a West Palm Beach garden center owner on two separate occasions – the second time resulting in tears at BGI, I decided to find out what we have done to offend. After all, in my 30+ years running 5 different businesses, this was a first…and second. And although it was different individuals on the BGI end each time, it was the same discourteous owner. I sensed there was something to be learned here. In instances like these, I try to be philosophical and know this experience is a “Learning moment” and has been sent as a guide from beyond. I try to be grateful for even the malice that comes.
And malice cloaked in a shroud of arrogance and disdain permeated the body language and gestures as our conversation commenced one late afternoon. This man clearly had contempt in his heart and a “Zero- sum” mind set. It was immediately revealed the notion of two reasonable men sitting down at a table to work things was not going to happen. At this point I simply stated why I drove 3 hours to see him, how important it was to me, and the impact it had – his karmic poison..if you will. In between his constant dodges of deflection and outright denial, I simply asked for courtesy in the future and let us serve his business any way we can. His response was more extended lecture, subject change, denial and fleeting eyes. Now, I was looking for an exit strategy…where is my car?? My heart hurt. Walking became laborious. I instantly felt completely drained. It was as if a human negative gravity vortex was sucking the life right out of me. Have you ever felt that way when encountering someone? I quickly ended the seemingly empty monologue, thanked him for his words and departed. Two days later pondering the West Palm Beach garden center experience, I discovered a few gifts realized from this stark encounter:
- ATTENTION- Attention is respect. Be completely present when engaging someone. To not do so is ugly and dark.
- HUMILITY- Stay humble. Arrogance is weak and pathetic.
- INTEGRITY- Absolute integrity is a must in our lives. To deceive is an act of betrayal. Cannot we be honest?
- COMPASSION- Even when confronting malice and disdain, bathe your heart in compassion. Because of his severe compassion, no institution could contain Jesus Christ. We should try to do the same.
Mary Oliver wrote a poem that resonates when contemplating difficult experiences and lessons such as these:
Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.
When someone gives you a box full of darkness, it is a gift. Thank them and show them compassion. Their world is stark and cold. Plant some light and beauty in their lives if you can. This is the “Why” at BGI. Please join us.
In such ugly times, the only true protest is beauty. Phil Ochs
In closing; you can call it Karmic, or you can call it Newton’s Third Law of action and reaction, or you can call it whatever a man soweth so shall he reap, it is a law of our world. When human vortices try to suck you in, remember this story of the garden center owner. He doesn’t understand. You do. Show compassion. It’s law, and there is no downside.
P.S. Beauty will save the world.
But who will save beauty? Dostoevsky
Thank you for listening. I hope this helps. Protest the vortices and save beauty!!