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Illustration by Mike Taylor

Imagine for a moment that everything you see, hear, smell, touch, and taste is your very best friend. The spoon in your hand and the distant sound of traffic; the raindrops running down your back and the smell of dirty laundry; the blue sky and the flavor of cumin—these are not mere passing encounters with two-dimensional items. Instead, imagine for a moment that everything you are experiencing is your very, very best friend saying hello.

Such a hello is much more than just a passing handshake or kiss on the cheek. The sky’s blue hello invites us to discover something further—something vast and astounding. The smell of an ocean breeze invites us to explore further—to wonder and discover. The sights and sounds around us when fully acknowledged are quite an invitation indeed.

Now, imagine further that we accept our best friend’s invitation and say hello back. What would we say and how would we say it?

When we live a fearless life, we return such a gracious greeting by recognizing unmistakably that everything we see, hear, smell, touch, and taste is in fact quite literally our very best friend, and we accept all invitations extended by our very best friend with decorum and great respect: we “gently bow.”

On the one hand, bowing is a simple gesture—a human offering—where we extend heartfelt respect toward another. Standing up straight, looking directly at our world, fully appreciating the profound invitation, we acknowledge the remarkable timelessness of it all and we say hello by gently bowing. We actually bow by gently lowering our head in appreciation. This gentleness has no agenda other than to softly open, fully awake to what is fully awake, completely available and exposed.

Excerpted from Fearless at Work: Timeless Teachings for Awakening Confidence, Resilience, and Creativity in the Face of Life’s Demands by Michael Carroll © 2012. Reprinted with permission of Shambhala Publications.www.shambhala.com

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