American life

Valentine? I don’t need no Stinking Valentine!

Lee heart 150 res

I don’t need no stinking Valentine! I got me!
 
And I’m in love…with mySELF.
 
I’m an out of the closet hedonist, I create the greatest internal pleasure for myself with the least possible pain.
 
I have things that make me happy: cool cameras, a shiny car, a TV screen that’s nice and big and flat, an iPod, iPad, iPhone, even this wicked-fast Mac computer. They all serve their purpose as tools to bring me good feelings. But they never bring me the inner grin, the hidden joy, that doing the small stuff for someone else does. Yes, I’m doing it for me!
And I’m lovin’ it!
 
I think doing this stuff is an acknowledgment of a universal human function inside of me that brings about a silent smile. Maybe it’s my true SELF, the basic SELF of humankind that connects us all. Yes, I’m sure that inner grin is in all of us but some of us don’t pay it the attention others do, the attention it deserves. Many of us have no idea of such a concept. Maybe we’re  stuck in the what’s-in-it-for-me mode we grew up with and we don’t want to do anything that doesn’t have material reward. That model did serve our tribal ancestors well, but maybe it’s time to move on. Maybe we just need to consider humankind our tribe. Would we need an adversarial other to gain that human bond, maybe a threat from outer space? Perhaps we only need to realize there is something “in it for me,” but something more rewarding than the material. Believe me, I wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn’t good for me. Thats for sure! 
 
 
Through the ages some saw this inner function as just a normal part of being human. I’m reading Marcus Aureilious at the moment, he was an Emperor of Rome, First century. Now, I’m not an astute reader of the classics but I saw a recent reading list of which, Aureilious’ “Meditations” was on top.  I like  reading it because it’s kind of a journal, and I like journaling. From “Meditations” I get a tiny taste of everyday early Roman life. 
 
Much of what he speaks of in human interactions could be written today. But one thing relates to what I’m speaking about:
 
On performing a kindness for others he says: “…doing them a favor and expecting something in return, instead of looking to the action itself for your reward. What else did you expect from helping someone out? Isn’t it enough that you’ve done what your nature demands? You want a salary for it too? As if your eyes expected a reward for seeing, or your feet for walking. That’s what they were made for. By doing what they were designed to do they’re performing their function. Whereas humans were made to help others, or help them to do something, we’re doing what we were designed for. We perform our function.”
 
Now when I say I do the pleasure thing without the pain it’s because I take full advantage of this world’s leverage opportunity. 
 
A decade or so ago I contacted a mission in Ethiopia. I discovered through a contact there that the average wage of a working person is $25 per month. Twenty five bucks is what a couple might spend on lunch here. So that amount makes a huge difference there with insignificant impact here.
 
So I had this idea. Instead of Cheryl and I exchanging gifts at Christmas or birthdays,etc. we’d send an amount we’d usually spend on each other over there. We did have a reliable contact, Sr. Mary James, whom I learned about through the Diocese of Rockville Center. When she received a check from us she agreed to send the gift recipient here an explanation of exactly how the money was used. 
 
In that way Cheryl or I would have this inner grin that someone on a less fortunate part of our globe was getting a solid life-altering lift out of our gift. Sometimes they were able to start a business, sometimes kids could go to school, sometimes a dad could build a shelter out of four pieces of corrugated steel. There was no overhead in our idea, no charity staff, no CEO pay, no names on mailing lists; the only cost was the check and the stamp on the envelope. 
 
Others soon joined us, family, friends, associates, etc. When Cheryl or I do a service for someone here and they’d like to reciprocate we let them send a few bucks to Sr. Mary James. And she responds as I described.
 
So, some of us no longer wonder what to get someone for their birthday, the size, color, style, etc. We just do this leverage thing. We still exchange small tokens-of-love gifts but instead of having another sweater to stack on my closet shelf, I get a lot of warmth from from this inner grin. That’s a very good thing because…it’s all about me. I just love mySELF! 
Ethiopia homes 2
Ethiopia homes 1
Ethiopian school kids 2
 
Happy Valentines Day,
Be well,
Lee
 

2 replies »

  1. This was a wonderful post. Nothing like helping and not expecting anything in return. Just knowing that you did the right thing like you were taught, probably oh, so many years ago. It creates a win, win situation. You feel good, they feel good. Had to put my two cents in…I do enjoy your posts…. I have been a little busy these past few days, shoveling, and shoveling, and then shoveling some more! Guess what, I may be busy again, tomorrow. Hate to complain, especially since I can’t do anything about it. But at least I am healthy enough to do mine, and help a friend. Spring will be here soon, right??????????

    Like

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