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.
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.