T’is the season. As April rolls around, one must always think of the taxman. The Beatles wrote about him. We abhor him. But there is a something that takes a little something out of his bite. Itemized deductions. And of course assuming you are charitable in some way, one of those deductions gets you a pretty good bang for your buck,
We can give in a number of ways: financially with money or goods, of our time or expertise, and in a totally different way of ourselves. Take money or things. At first it is relatively straightforward. You write a check or drop off clothes and food.
Depending on the size of the gift, deep down you would like some recognition. If it’s really big you would like your name on the door, wing or building. Otherwise a note from the donee is a nice touch. If you get a hand written one instead of the obligatory form missive, bully for you.
I will hold out to you unless it is the widow’s mite, giving money is the easiest thing in the world to do. Write a check, slap it in the envelope and say “see ya.” You really don’t have to get involved unless you give a lot and then they want you on a special council that hopefully gets you to give more. Or the opposite where you can really stiff this group or that. Nobody is going to pick up the phone and trash you for not giving enough.
Time gets a little more complicated. Now I have to have some level of involvement. I have to commit to some sort of time frame and God forbid they are depending on me. Keep it simple. Slide in. Slide out. Whew! Done for another week. But now you get to know people and they you. The cement begins to harden. You are now responsible.
Lastly is giving of yourself. By far the most difficult. You actually open up to another. This could be wife, lover or close friend, not that they need to be mutually exclusive. You are open to judgment. You are open to criticism. You are completely vulnerable. The proverbial “warts and all”.
Actors, artists, and writers all subject themselves to this type of scrutiny and I applaud them for it. They pour their guts out only to be told they are amateurish, trite or in some way or another completely off the mark. The same is true in relationships. Rejection sucks.
Pure giving is a totally different matter. One does so without any anticipation of reward or recognition. You just give. You spend your entire time worrying about someone else. It’s not altruism. It is an exercise in putting everyone but yourself first. You don’t give till it hurts because it really doesn’t. And you look for nothing else in return.
Imagine spending just one day trying to do something for others all day. You make breakfast, you smile and say hello on the street, you hold doors, you reach out to someone who is really hurting. Never once do you get a thank you, or a smile or any sign of acceptance. As a matter of fact you might get scorn or ridicule. But you get into bed that night and say I did some good for the world today even though no one noticed.
Have I tried? Of course. I have made it through a few hours and I guess that is a start. I always want to bring it back to me in some way or fashion. Ah, to look at the world completely from their eyes and not mine. That is a talent and an art.
I guess that is really “caritas” or pure love. Wait a minute. You mean pure giving is pure love? I thought love was feeling batso about a beautiful woman. I thought that was looking at my kids and grandkids and feeling gratified they are some sort of reflection of me. I thought it was a delusion in golf when I shoot 78. I love that game.
Today, tomorrow or soon my daughter will give birth to their second child. I have seen her and her husband and my other kids grow as a family. I have seen how they try to give everything to their children. It’s cool and the kids reflect that love.
More importantly I see that little babe as a blank slate. From the get go he or she is incredibly unique. But they are also open and free of prejudice. Yes they are all love and really can’t sense anything in return. They don’t see black or white or Catholic or Jew. They just see love.
I guess that is why Jesus said, “Do unto others” I don’t care if you are a Christian or an atheist. It is a good maxim to live by. Okay I am going to try it again today. I am going to forget about Ted. If I help someone I won’t even look for a smile or knowing glance in return.
Maybe I am starting right now. Maybe I am giving you something. I will never know. And that is good.
Ted the Great
Factoid: Phebe Kathryn McKeever was born Tuesday morning at 5:30 to Lindsey and Chip McKeever. 7lbs 13 oz. 18” long. That’s a great factoid.