My son-in-law, Matthew (Matty), is a humanitarian. Although he doesn’t have a formal spiritual practice, that doesn’t matter to me. Matty’s living practice is kindness and goodness, and that’s enough for me. Grateful living is a state of being. I’m talking about Matty’s MO:
throw kindness around like confetti
Living is prayer… our way of living is a reflection of who we are, who we are becoming and our love of life. Living is a ceremony, reaching to divine. A way of saying ‘hello and thank you; In’Lakesh (you are another of myself in Mayan) or Namaste ( “I greet the part of you that is also in me” in Sanskrit). This is celebration and this is joy. We are experience and we are the canvas for our experience in each moment. We are the altar to Divine. Relationally, as mother-in-law, I experience inspiration from Matty. Thank you for inspiring me!
Matthew’s answer to the question was thoughtful, beautiful and inspiring.
On Friday night for fun (and to engage in Matty’s way of connecting with his new community), he offered a “pop-up” burger stand at El Cozmico, a colorfully fun glamping (glamorous camping) venue here in West Texas. He’s known in Austin to install the Bad Larry Burger pop-up in various places around town (and as a bragging mother-in-law, I will add that he was at the Willy Nelson festival last summer!) His popularity proceeds him with the crispy smash griller, and I attest to my love for that juicy Bad Larry! I observed his careful and mindful preparation for the evening which included labeling biodegradable burger boxes “Marfa Larry Co”. The special burger blend was local Angus and pork barbecoa. Delicious!
I asked him a simple question, "Why Marfa Larry Co instead of Marfa Bad Larry Co?” His Austin notoriety has been Bad Larry Burgers (as well as several other restaurants he co-owns in Austin) and he's been known to don politically outspoken t-shirt slogans while grilling. He is often known as Larry —the one with the political liberal reputation.
Matthew’s answer to the question was thoughtful, beautiful and inspiring. He said
he’s moving away from Austin and building his home out here in Marfa. He wants to have good relationships with everyone. He told me that Bad Larry represents his political angst and his liberal leanings, and he often felt angry in Austin. Marfa is a small town with locals, land owners, ranchers, immigrants, artists and liberal thinkers. He doesn’t want to lay on his liberal Austinite vibe and try to override anyone’s experience of being here. He’s starting new, being kind to the people he meets. He wants his burgers to reflect the diversity he feels in his heart and the acceptance of all walks of life.
This conversation at the dining room table gave me pause, and I noticed a hand-made slogan adhered to his computer that read, “Throw kindness around like confetti.” In that moment, I knew something more about my son-in-law.
The next morning Matty generously made Katie and I a cup of perfectly brewed coffee and promptly left. In an hour he returned home with a brown bag of freshly made burritos. They were how I would imagine a burrito to taste, full of juicy chorizo, potato, eggs and homemade green salsa. The best! And even more than that: I tasted care and love in that burrito. “Where did they come from?” I inquired. I know now to ask these simple questions of this man, my son-in-law, because there’s always a deeper, more thoughtful undercurrent moving in him that helps me to know him better. And, I learn from him.
He exclaimed with a twinkle in his eye that they were free. And, “How did that happen?” His matter-of-fact answer brought me to tears. The burrito came from a family operated restaurant. The mother of the family recently had a stroke and the youngest son was just diagnosed with stomach cancer. Unbeknownst to the family, Matty set up a Marfa Larry Co pop-up and raised $4000 which he delivered in a brown paper bag to the family. She cried and took him under his wing. Since then, Matty says laughing, they’ve given him access to the kitchen and he is always sent home with a bag of burritos.
We never know how our listening and care for the other can bridge what could be a bottomless chasm
As proof of Matty’s resolve to accept and live with the diversity of a small town, he told another story later in the week of his encounter with two fashionable “Marfa-style”, California women at the local bar. Matty said that they had spoken openly and rather loudly about a local rancher and a political fight he was ensconced in. Clearly, they were not afraid to voice their right-winged views on the local political matter at hand. As the story went, Matty listened, and he also chimed in for the other side of this well-known drama going on in town. He said that he remembered his resolve to neutrality and open-mindedness so in Matty’s diplomatic way, he chose to not make waves.
The next night I took the kids to dinner at a popular restaurant. As I paid the bill, Matty was talking with a woman he knew and they hugged on the way out. As he got into the car after, he grinned saying that she was one of the two women at the bar. I felt that Matty’s direct experience and resolve to not polarize a potentially volatile situation won both of them friendship.
We never know how our listening and care for the other can bridge what could be a bottomless chasm (more on that later). Matty may seem charming (appearing friendly and pleasing—and I think not always authentic) on the outside; however, the truth I’m discovering is that on the inside he is goodness and kindness and that is what shines through.
The chasm I speak of is that of “Contempt, distrust, suspicion, resistance, pride, haughtiness, the sense of superiority, and the urge to fulfill,” says Krishnamurti, and, he continues, they “are all expressions of violence.” [From Krishnamurti in a Public Discussion 6, Saanen, 8 August 1966]
Kindness and goodness is not a commodity but a birth rite. They live in all of us,
just as joy lives in all of us and are readily available. We don’t have to work at having or being these qualities. Our work is to peel the layers of the onion of the chasm; the learned behaviors of separation. The act of kindness makes our world better each time we mindfully celebrate another; having an aim to connect rather than separate and live our true purpose in life—to be in service to one another. That is humble living, a spiritual celebration of living in gratitude, a prayer, a ceremony without ever having to make a declaration of who you are. It’s as good as humility gets.
How would the world be different if we all threw a little kindness around, like confetti? Thank you Matty.