The best compliment I ever got was from my grandfather. I was in my late 20s and in L.A. for a visit. We were sitting on the porch of his South Central home waiting for my cousin's new boyfriend to arrive. I was there because that porch is where I had sat for most of the visit. It had a great view of the entire neighborhood including the kids playing on the sidewalk, of the cars pulling in from Manchester Boulevard, and was within talking distance of the neighbor's on either side of the house. I have never considered myself one of my grandparents' favorites. They loved me and I loved them. I never really got to know them too well because they spoke Spanish, and while my comprehension was decent I couldn't form a sentence to save my life. My grandfather spoke more English so I talked with him more, and so when he came to meet my cousin's new boyfriend we got to talking about his view of my life.The are too many specifics, but the overall gist was that my grandfather thought I was a great person because I didn't judged others based on their money, looks, education, achievements, or social status. I always had a smile and a polite "hello" for everyone and forgave people frequently. This compliment from my grandfather affected me profoundly because I had heard something similar in grade school from my friend Jennifer. She told me that she knew she would always be loved because I had a heart big enough for the world. I repeat that moment often in my mind when I find myself frustrated with people because that frustration usually has to do with my character flaws more than theirs.I guess people wonder why I would open my heart so readily; especially those who know how hard my heart has gotten bashed sometimes. I too have wondered this and I've concluded two things: 1) I'm not happy when I close my heart down to people 2) I have a mantra about people "We are all trying to get through life together. And we should all be respected for that." Sure it's neat that we display our awards and titles and achievements, but really deep down the real thing that wins my respect is the effort a person takes in living life. I don't even really have a monitoring system for that effort. I'm kind of impressed by any effort.
On that note, my friend Kelsey once asked if I was afraid to have my heart broken. I answered, "Yes, I am afraid all the time. But honestly the reason I love so well is because I've had my heart broken so much." I reminds me of my humanity and the fears and frailties other humans intimately know. And maybe it's the reason why it is so easy for me have a smile and a polite "hello" for everyone who comes my way.