An Either or Choice
This essay is about royalty, but it isn’t about British royalty. It is about a gift someone gave me three dozen years ago. I had helped a person who was having marital problems. After talking with her for a while, the issues were resolved with her husband. She asked me how much she owed me. I said that there was no charge. I just wanted to help her, and she thanked me.
However, a month later, she stopped with a gift for me. It was a piece of parchment about eighteen inches wide and four feet long. It was a phrase she did in Chinese calligraphy, along with her signature at the bottom right of the parchment. Since my Mandarin is severely limited, she said the Chinese characters meant heart of royalty. I had the calligraphy framed, and it has been in my home for several decades.
However, the heart of royalty can be seen from two radically different perspectives. The first is that of British royalty. Since Henry II in 1169, kings and queens would utter the royal we when making an important ruling. That raises the question makes up the we. The king or queen and God. This is also reflective of the divine right of kings. The British monarchs ruled England at the behest of God. That is hubris and blatant royal racism. The royals were superior to the since they believed they and God were working together to rule England.
The obvious question is, who determines that assumption to be accurate? The monarch. Therefore, the heart of royalty is based upon the royal mindset. Royalty determines they are almost divine; everyone else makes up the hoi polloi or the masses.
The alternative heart of royalty isn’t based on racism and hubris. This form of heart of royalty deals with decisions made by the group. Sharing, not dictating, is the basis for this type of royalty. This is another Kierkegaardian either/or decision for all of us. Either life is merely about me, or it is about we.
In ancient Chinese history, the older members of society were venerated for their wisdom. That mindset isn’t based on IQ. Wisdom is learning from a lifetime of mistakes. While I am not Chinese, I have acquired a great deal of insight about life during my eighty years traveling down my yellow brick road of life filled with mistakes.
For example, my two dances with death were initially curses but soon became blessings. We all know that we aren’t immortal. However, your knowledge base is based upon facts unless you have led death on the dancefloor of life. Do the dance, and you know that reality in your gut. Dancing with death radically changes your Weltanschauung.
One of the changes in my worldview deals with discovering my family near Inle Lake. That was a positive experience, which has grown exponentially in the past decade. It started with playing Scrabble with Ti Ti.
And then there was an elephant ride through the Myanmar Alps.
I came up with a mantra—It is in giving that we get. That seems counterintuitive. However, it is an essential truism about life. It addresses our moving from the me to the we.
My family in Myanmar paid homage to me a couple of years ago. Homage is a fundamental part of Buddhism.
I had two feelings as I watched my family paying homage to me on Zoom. I was honored on the one hand, but the other feeling I had was that I should have done the same for them. Each one of my family members has shared a part of them with me. In turn, I have done the same to each of them. That feeling brings me back to my mantra. It is in giving that we get. If you wish to gain something in life, begin by sharing. Life isn’t about me; it is about we.
This is a link to Than’s painting of A Ngal Lay, my great-granddaughter.