Buzzzzzzzz! The noise of the mosquitos flying around my head was so unbearable, I didn’t mind the oppressive heat, even late into the night. My brothers, Peter and Ted and I all shared a room at the top of the stairs of our white house in Islamabad, Pakistan. At the time, I was eight, Peter almost ten and Teddy five years old. Each of our twin beds hugged alongside a wall, with the only remaining wall free for easy access to the tiny bathroom with no light.
“Mommy, I can’t sleep!” Silence. Our parents must have been already sound asleep in their own bedroom down the hallway. Only an hour or so earlier, they had spent time trying to kill as many of the mosquitos as they could, but to no avail. Teddy and I made up a song in honor of the swarm of bugs infesting our room. “Mosquito, a-lito, will suck-a, your blood-a….” Meanwhile, my father would run around the room trying to nail with his bare hands one blood-thirsty nuisance after the next. Teddy and I would laugh and sing in unison. But that was then. Now, with my family asleep I would need to fend for myself. With my one finger on each hand, I swatted wildly into the darkness when the buzzing would appear near my head. Quickly I realized it was pointless.
“Meg, this!” I turned around and a dim light revealed Raman, the man who took care of our house for my parents during the day, and stayed with his wife and children in the ‘servants quarters’ at the back of our house at night. I adored Raman, finding him sweet and gentle. He always smiled and winked at me, as if we both shared a mutual joke of some sort but I never new exactly what. Whenever I was with Raman, I felt a certain energy that somehow always lifted my spirits. Raman’s English was terrible and my Urdu was comparably bad, so I waited as he showed me what he wanted me to do. Apparently, by using my blanket to cover my entire body up to my chin and then placing my pillow over my head (allowing for a tiny area free for breathing), the mosquitoes’ sound was muffled and their chance of attack finally thwarted.
Right before I drifted off, as I lay under my blanket and pillow, I couldn’t help but think about the mosquito. Its only goal (and accomplishment) in life was to suck blood; to deplete. “What a horrible thing– to exist like that!” I thought. The next morning I went to find Raman, insisting on giving him the several piasters I had. He spent his time cleaning up after me, helping me, making me smile and laugh, and simply feel special. I ran to find my father. Only in second grade, although I couldn’t have articulated it, I already knew I loved the feeling of receiving positive energy. “Daddy, please give Raman more money, please!” I begged. I just wanted to give back to him in any way I could.
“Mom, promise me that except for the plane ride to and from the Dominican Republic, you’ll take a break from blogging!” Our son Ethan was well aware that my desire to write could impact our time spent together on our forthcoming vacation. “Okay,” I promised, “unless I meet a bug missing a wing or something and I need to teach it to flaunt.” Ethan was satisfied with that response.
Buzzzzzzzz! “Mommy! Daddy! Come quick….you need to….” It was Savanna, our seven-year-old. “…..Oh! There’s another one in the bathroom. Can you please kill it before we go to bed?” We had spent the week in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and had one last night before we were to return home. After the kids and even my husband John had long gone to sleep and I stayed up to read, I lay under my covers up to my chin with my head comfortably placed on top of one pillow and beneath another. In fact, ever since that hot second grade year in Islamabad, the only way I have been able to fall asleep (flying bugs present or not) is by having a second pillow placed over my head.
Thus far, the week had been fantastic. The weather and family time were equally amazing. It had not gone unnoticed that Ethan and Charlie had been smiling at any stranger they met, readily flaunting their differently-shaped hands and feet. Whether it was waving to the staff of locals at a restaurant, the bartenders that made them (virgin) pina coladas poolside, other kids in the pool or beach nearby, or the attendants at the park where we all spent the afternoon swimming with dolphins, our kids were clearly feeling self-assured and even confidant. Ethan even burst out one morning at the pool for all to hear, “Diferente es excelente!”
Earlier that day, while sitting in my chair poolside reading my friend Aviva’s soon-to-be released memoir, I glanced over at someone nearby reading a book I hadn’t read or thought about for almost twenty years, called, “The Celestine Prophesy,” by James Redfield. Not really a story, the book’s purpose was to lay out nine ‘insights’ to help someone to grow on a personal and spiritual level. Although I hardly remember any of the insights, one of them still somewhat stands out in my mind. It was the Third Insight and had to do with the universe as a field of sacred energy that we can sense. According to Redfield, “where attention goes, energy flows.” I still remember being impacted by that thought. From the moment we meet someone, we have the power to boost their energy level or deplete it, and vice-versa.
In that moment, I realized something that felt important. I couldn’t but help to think about how I’ve spent so much time ensuring that our kids walk this earth feeling positive and proud for their own sake. However, I think it’s just as important for us to recognize how much of an impact we can make on another person. The next morning right before they hopped back into the pool, Ethan, Charlie and I sat together looking at pictures of the trip on my Iphone. “Argh! Another one bit me!” Ethan pointed at his forearm. “I hate these mosquitos!” they then both chimed-in at once. I decided perhaps beyond complaints about annoying bugs, this was a teaching moment. “Think about it, kids. The mosquito’s only purpose is to take-away —to make people feel uncomfortable even by their sound before they bite.” I continued. “Every time we meet someone, if we act embarrassed or self-conscious about what we look like, others are drained by the encounter, and are left feeling awkward at best, possibly annoyed and certainly uncomfortable. Without even realizing it, we have impacted their own happiness level not only in that moment but even after they met us. It’s like how the mosquito bite only takes a second but you end up afterward with an itchy bump.” I paused. “I am so proud of you both. You are incredible flaunters, proud in your own skin. As a result, people that you meet literally can have a better day simply by being in the presence of your bright and positive attitude.”