They say there are five languages of love – that is, mediums people use to express their love. They are: Gifts, Time, Words, Touch, and Acts of Service.
I would like to propose a 6th: the language of Receiving.
To receive and to accept love, kindness, and acts of service, is in itself a language of love. In order to receive, we must humble ourselves – bow our heads equal to the weight of the acts of charity we are receiving.
This thought was inspired by Ru.
Ru is an Angel who disguised herself as our first Warm Showers host in Butterworth, Malaysia (Warm Showers is an online free hosting forum for touring cyclists. It’s epic, check it out).
We arrived in Butterworth by bus early in the morning. We entertained ourselves with ukulele jamming and getting lost before finally making our way to Ru’s parents house on the North side of Butterworth.
According to her birth certificate, Ru is a 41 year old Chinese-Malaysian. She is sure that the doctor (and her mother) mixed up her year of birth. At heart (and in body and mind) she is a budding 22 year old, excited about the world, enthusiastic, open, adventurous, curious, innovative, hopeful.
She has lived in Malaysia her whole life, save for two years when she lived in India and Eastern Europe while working for a non-profit Innovate for Change. She currently works at a hipster book shop still in its infancy on Penang Island.
Ru drove us around Butterworth, showing us her favorite secret eateries and some of oldest bike shops. She shared her story and her thoughts openly, and was eager to hear ours.
Ru seems to embody many of the ideas I can access only as abstractions. She is completley unpretentious in her belief that ‘everything happens for a reason’. She believes whole heartedly in giving and ‘Paying it Forward’. She shared her life philosophy equation: Surrender + Truth = Love. She has faith that everything works out for people who believe that it will. She also gracefully embodies ‘femininity’ in her trust in intuition and empathy.
She is actively minimizing her attachment to possessions. She is learning to play the guitar, the ukulele, and the Guqin. She takes wood carving lessons just because. Her words of advice to us are: “Just go, start now!”
I’m quite certain I’ve never met such a child like adult before. I am inspired.
At one point in our almost too-perfect day with Ru, I realized that I would actually never be able to express gratitude enough to match her kindess. This realization made me uncomfortable. What does one do with excess giving? How does one respond? Does Ru expect something – if so, what? If not, how?
Finally, at the end of the day, Ru asked us one favor.
We had just finished a dinner of delicious Laksa and Mee Goreng at a very ‘ulu’ restaurant outside of Butterworth. Her father had treated us to dinner, and I felt somehow guilty that our langauge barriers made me unable to say anything but ‘thank you’. After dinner, her father (in his late 60’s) briskly left the restaurant to return to his work at an electronics distribution outlet. When he was walking away, Ru smiled and said “Please give my Father a hug.”
We all quickly ran after him and gave him hugs and Thank-yous for our meal. He looked slightly taken aback, but mostly grateful and pleasantly surprised.
Later that night, Ru asked that we hug her Mother as well.
“My parents have given us love for our whole lives. They don’t know how to get it back, though.”
She explained how she cannot give them hugs because it would be too sudden of a change.
“But you can, you can show them how to change”.
This simple act of reciprocation made me really question the act of giving. Giving cannot be a one-way street. Successful giving requires a receiver to accept the gift.
Ru is full of giving, all she needs is people in need who are open to receiving. If we can exchange anything for the wisdom she passed on to us, I am happy that it be gratitude.
I often feel I am not doing enough to say Thank You. I am only now beginning to understand the power of Reception, the final Language of Love.