I can still picture my 6-year-old-self sitting in our family living room and hearing my Mom’s voice in her southern drawl: Get your feet off the table. She would then always follow-on with a defining statement of context: You wouldn’t put your feet on the table if you were in someone else’s home, so why would you do it here?
This follow-on statement for contextual clarification didn’t need further explanation. She didn’t have to wonder if I would be putting my feet on the table in other people’s homes. Because she knew in those circumstances, that I was a guest … and she had clearly taught me what it meant to be someone’s guest.
A quick look to the definitions of a “guest” in Dictionary.com would simply describe what you are as a guest:
- A person who spends some time at another person’s home in some social activity, as a visit, dinner, or party.
- A person who receives the hospitality of a club, a city, or the like.
- A person who patronizes a hotel, restaurant, etc., for the lodging, food, or entertainment it provides.
My mom taught us, as a guest, who you are.
It may seem too simple, but I wonder the profound impact it might make if we simply did a complete reset on what it looked like to be a guest – a good guest.
It should be a shocking wake-up call that some major airlines have delayed the return to serving alcohol in the air – not because of a health risk, but because of the inappropriate aggravated behavior of some passengers (i.e. being bad guests). We should look in the mirror and just let this settle-in for a minute or two.
Being a bad guest never leads to a good day.
In fact, the kind of guest that I choose to be can often be a revealing reflection of the kind of life I’m living. Yet, the reverse can also be true: the kind of guest I choose to become, can set the direction of the kind of life I will lead.
It may be naïve to consider – yet getting back to being good guests may be a simple, yet radical solution sitting right in front of us.
What if we took this even one step further? What if we embraced the truth of our reality that we are simply guests of earth? What would it mean to stop putting our feet on the tables of our planet and respectively enjoying the miracle that it is? In seeing it through the eyes of being a guest, we would perhaps see our fellow guests in a whole new light as well.
No doubt, treating people as good guests is the other side of the same coin. I’m reminded of the classic song from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast – Be Our Guest. It is in making others feel at home that we discover the very home in which we live.
It is in serving that we are always served.
I remember my high school summer job as a cashier at the local Pic-Pac grocery store in Memphis. There were days that I certainly would have preferred to do other things rather than report to work. On those days, I made it a practice to intentionally smile and welcome each customer coming through my line. Without exception, within 30 minutes, I was completely a peace with being there and enjoying each new customer that waited in line to be my next guest.
How we show-up as guests and how we in-turn welcome those who are guest, no doubt, are systemically related.
If we did both, we could very easily be flying the friendly skies once again … with something worth toasting!
When was the last time you are intentionally aware of being a great guest or being treating others as one? As always, I’d love to hear your story, insights and wisdom. Thank you for sharing below!