Friday, November 21, 2008

I love hospitality...

I don’t know if you’ve ever received hospitality, pure beautiful kind generous hospitality, if you have you will understand what I am about to try to explain but if you haven’t then you’re going to have to use your imagination.

Hospitality is a gift for some people and it is an art for all people. Some people are naturally the most hospitable people you’ve ever met but, most people have to develop the art of hospitality. I think that hospitality is one of my favorite things in life. I enjoy receiving it but, I LOVE offering it. Making other people feel at home and comfortable in a place (new or old) is just about one of the greatest joys in life.

I think I enjoy it because it is a challenge, even though hospitality is guided by the same principles for everyone it is a challenge because true hospitality is personalized for each individual. You don’t do the same thing for everyone to help them feel at home… you customize, you learn what their “favorites” are, you figure out if they’re too hot or if they need something warm to drink, you learn everything you can about them so that everything you offer them fits them like an old shoe.

Of course you cannot make anyone feel completely at home, we’re people, we’re different and there’s no place like home. Even so, genuine hospitality can make you feel like you’ve got a second home that is almost as nice and cozy as your “real” home. Really good hospitality will allow the new and different things to become familiar and nice sooner because everything else is so pleasant.

I’ve received a lot of hospitality in my life. All hospitality is amazing because it is a gift but, at times, it is hard (even though this is terrible) not to compare one experience of hospitality to another. There are different kinds of hospitality. There is the 1) you are at home and we will let you take care of yourself how you like it, 2) you are the most valuable guest we have ever had we are going to do everything FOR you, 3) you have come to visit the PLACE we live and we want to show all of it to you, 4) you have come to visit US and we will introduce you to all of our friends and our lives. The fact is that usually there is a mixture of the first two and the last two in any experience.

Since I’ve arrived here I’ve been lavished with a lot of the 1st and 4th kinds of hospitality (which I love) but, as strange as it may seem, I came expecting a little more of love for PLACE than I’ve found. It’s strange, as I said, because I’m used to being around people who are pretty extravagant in their hospitality. If you came to visit us we would do our best to take you places and introduce you to the life and locations that make the place we live unique. I don’t really pamper people very much but, I LOVE showing them the places that make where I live unique (wherever I may be).

I have felt more confined here than I have in other places. I am constantly warned about NOT doing many things that if I didn’t know any better I would have done without hesitating. People do talk about places here and brag a bit about their country (which is lovely, what I’ve seen of it) but, I haven’t really gotten to see as much of it as I’ve wanted to. I’m kind of frustrated by this situation because I’m not really afraid to be adventurous except that everyone around me is terrified for me. I want to just rebel and go but, I am also cautious enough to realize that going alone is probably not the best idea. Oh well. I just feel like I’m seeing hospitality done in a way that is very different that I would do it. Especially at work, I’m not sure if I could call it hospitality what I am experiencing…

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live the questions now... R.M. Rilke