We do….

Forgive me this, my not-so-daily blog. I may have sinned. I was feeling kind of philosophical yesterday and wrote almost a thousand words that, by any definition, is basic drivel. Still, I hate to waste the effort. There will be no more of this in future…….well, maybe a little now and then…..

We do…a little volunteer community work. Most folks do. Some don’t but most do a little something. To be fair to those that don’t give much of anything, their absence in community participation is notably more appreciated that way and their active participation is not always welcome or useful – so them NOT volunteering is most often a positive. We have old guys and gals who take and do not give back (or at least not that I have noticed) but there are no strict rules in the community volunteering business. And that is OK. No one really cares. No one keeps accounts.

Funny how it all seems to work out, though.

The thing about small community is that it is not all kumbaya. People are people and some are not as attractive or as positive an influence as others. The GOOD thing about community is that there is still room for those people and all the ones that fall in between generous and stingy, pleasant and grouchy. No one counts on the skint-types too much but neither do they exclude them. They are ‘just there’ and, if they are in need, people help ’em out and, the hope is that if others are in need, they MIGHT reciprocate. Maybe. But there are no real expectations.

There are, however, some habitual behavioral expectations. Society has taught us to tout expectations-of-good-manners and we (Sal and I) have ’em, too.

I mention this because I recently had a conversation with a generous and loving community member whose only gripe was that their kindness and generosity was not expressly appreciated. People took and took but not only did they NOT give back but some did not even express any gratitude. My community ‘giver’ was a bit disappointed.

“Well, you know, I said, getting a bit philosophical, a gift is a gift. If the gift has an expected return – even a thankyou – , it is no longer a gift, it is a transaction. If you levy the ‘price of an expectation-of-gratitude’ then you are obviously giving to get something. If you give to get, you are in a state-of-exchange and then that is no longer a gift.”

“But, shouldn’t they at least say thank you?”

“Well, I tend to think that way, too, but what I said is from the bible. (I have no idea if it is in the bible. I lie using the bible as backup just like the priests). You give to give, not to get. Giving is it’s own reward. But I understand the expectation. I sometimes feel it, myself. But think of it this way: you give to your children all the time. You give and give and give and only sometimes is the situation ever set up for a thank you. Most of the time the kid doesn’t even know you are giving – and, if they do, they think it is their due. Or worse, they resent it as an intrusion! So, if you can give to your kid in the Christian sense of charity, can you not give to another in the same way?”

“I hate you!”

The irony to the above is that almost all that is given freely seems to be returned in some weird kind of way by the universe*. Usually multi-fold. Seldom is it returned by the original recipient but, somehow, the gift of giving comes back in some way shape or form. Some people call that Karma (in Hinduism and Buddhism: the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, are viewed as deciding their fate in this and future existences). I am disinclined to get too mystical about it, myself (despite this odd blog). I think you just give and take and let God sort it out. But, if I had to make a philosophical stand, I think Karma is close to naming a real but kinda mystical phenomena. I think Karma is real. *Don’t quote me.

I could be wrong. I could just be another sap or sucker (or even a sap-sucker) but so much of my life was really a gift and so little was the result of good planning, hard work or personal management. I planned, of course. I worked. I managed. But there is no way I can attribute my great marriage, my wonderful kids, my general health, my good life to any of that. Most of it was just a big fluke.

When I was in my early 20’s I decided that too many Americans owned too much of BC and so I went out to buy some of it back. I had no money at all so I had to go to the ‘boonies’ to get something I imagined I could afford and even at that, I borrowed every cent of the money. I had no idea that that land would become my ‘paradise’ now. But it has become exactly that. Pure dumb luck, NOT good planning!

When I was 21 and asked a little cutie out on a date and it turned out to be the happiest day of my life, I had no idea that she and I would eventually be wed and stay that way for fifty years. That is like winning the Lotto 50 times! A total gift from the Gods!

I was planning NOT to have kids and then Sal decided otherwise and what a gift they are! Gifts that keep on giving (grandchildren). And so it all went. Work, plan, manage and then, surprise!……. something else even better happened.

And it was all good.

So, what is my point? Well, I am working a bit to help someone right now. They are good. But they have been mostly money oriented all their life. I have no problem with that. But it kinda leaves them impoverished in a way. Money-getting is a demanding mistress. It is not a high Karma producer as a rule. Everyone chooses a path and many choose that one and it is NOT always truly enriching – even if they get filthy rich.

Money-getting is not usually too closely associated with giving freely and so money is often all there is left with which to measure your time on earth. In fact, money-getters are usually in a constant state of transaction – never content – always trying to trade up to a ‘richer’ state. Even when they donate they want their name on a plaque or something. And feeling that way destroys the magic of giving. It erodes the gift of life. It often leaves them alone and empty. It’s kinda sad.

Jus’ sayin’….

PS. Please do not misunderstand me: I do not walk on water giving away free fish sandwiches to the multitudes. That was attempted once a long time ago and did not go over well with the authorities. I am basically normal and living normally in the real world. Mostly, anyway. Hell, I even shop at Costco because ‘a buck goes further there’. Being a user-of-money is just being realistic – that is how the world works. A lot of it is transactional. I guess what I am saying is there are a dozen better ways to do a transaction than just doing so with money.

7 thoughts on “We do….

  1. Not drivel, that’s for sure. Actually quite good – excellent really. I think you are right about planning one’s life. The best things that have happened in my life have been pretty much serendipitous.

    Like the time I really, really needed a job to support my family. I sent out a hundred resumes and couldn’t land an interview. I was deeply depressed. Then – out of the blue – I got a call from a colleague I had done some volunteer work with many years before. He and his boss were going through her stack of old resumes looking for a particular skill set. Turns out they both remembered me from different times. How’s that for planning?

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  2. Yep.
    I dont mind helping our when i can and after years of people taking advantage( he has a truck! He would LOVE to spend his weekends helping me or my friends that he’s never met…..move stuff!) .
    I actually get somewhat embarrassed when someone sings my praises to others.
    ( “He cant take a compliment….”).
    And, eventually you get tired of being the “go to guy”.
    And stop offering free help.
    My favorite “free weekend story”.
    I was golfing with friends when one of the guys complained that he couldnt get a contractor to build a retaining wall and fence on his property.
    May Long weekend was approaching so I offer to help.
    “Get the wood, nails, etc and I’ll be there Sat morning.
    I show up.
    Everything is piled up ready to go.
    He comes out and says, ” I have to drive my “kid” to rep baseball practice, I’ll be back in an hour.”
    Then I see his “kid”…. A huge 17 years old man/child.
    This kid towered over me and was built like an NFL Pro athlete.
    WTH?
    “Why isnt the kid helping us?
    “Oh he’s useless with tools and he may get scouted this Summer to play pro…..”
    Off they went.
    His wife shaking her head.
    So I packed half a tone of wet landscape logs to the back, dug a ditch, set up the stakes for guides and started.
    “Dad” arrived home about 4 hours later with “the kid”. I was starting to cut logs, and stake them in the ground.
    “We’re gonna have lunch and then help”
    An hour for lunch, etc I continued working. The wife brought out a sandwich and water.
    Dad wasnt kidding about “useless with tools” only he should have been looking in the mirror when he said it. The son followed his dads’ lead.
    We had 75% of the wall up that day and I came back the next day to finish and start on the fence.
    More excuses, more delays.
    I left at the end of the day promising to return on the holiday Monday.
    I never went back. And I never played golf with him again.
    Self absorbed, entitled, lazy, P…O….S…..
    And I do believe in Karma.
    His wife left him. They sold the house in the divorce.
    His kid never went anywhere with his “career” in sports and he got some girl pregnant and now THEY are living with dad in a rental…
    So the grumpy become more grumpy because ( surprise, surprise) no one wants to be around grumpy people who complain ever when someone is trying to help..
    No one wants to go out of their way to help the greedy or the miserable.
    Unspoken , unacknowledged, inevitable …..karma.

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    • Ah, yes…the curse of having a skill. Especially the multiple burden that comes with multiple skills. And a truck. Worse yet, you have access to hard-to-find materials and tools. I get that even without possessing any skills (I am still at the hammer, tongs and ‘good enough for the girls I go out with’ level of skill). But, I understand. I’ve had those people in my life but, like you, once was enough. Simply no more help offered or given. Eventually dropped from my sphere of friends. But, then again, we have those who reciprocate and so willingly and enthusiastically. They become part of the Circle of Love. I should do a blog on the CoL but if this blog was odd, the CoL sounds positively nuts!

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    • I suppose that, if you believe in the rewards of Karma and then do something nice, you are ‘transacting’ to get Karma points. Fair enough. But I do not think that way (well, not fully). I think you are a giver or a taker and you simply accept one role or the other and ‘oh, by the way, the taker ends up with less and the giver is always better off’ is just a background philosophy rather than a conscious transaction. But I could be a sap–sucker in denial. Good point. Kinda.

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