I Could Wait, In Your Line, And If You Had No Money, I Would Give You My Last Dime
I dropped off a little gift for my friend Carly today. It was a Rilo Kiley short that was a size too small for me and probably only worn once, if ever. Normally I would have been loath to give anything away for free without some kind of compensation, however meager. In this case, though, I got away with a free milkshake that she probably would have bought me anyway. Normally I would have been somewhat selfish and asked for something more substantial, more concrete. Normally I would have been more than happy to hold on to something I couldn't use rather than give it away. But as I waited in that line, shirt in hand, all I could think about was how maybe the person who once charged his friends to ride in his car, the person who once made change for five dollars at a cancer research fundraiser because they told him a dollar was the minimum donation, had finally had a change of heart and actually learned to be possibly generous.
i could show up at your door and still know what you're looking for
In the last week alone I've taken two of my cousins to baseball games on my own and I have given away my Playstation 2 to my other cousin. In the last few months I've given away at least six CDs and four DVDs. Now mind you, in these years preceding this one, I've always asked for a small something to take CDs or DVDs off my hand. But this year, as soon as I hear somebody hasn't heard Rilo Kiley or another of the great bands I like, I go out of my way to get them a copy of More Adventurous stat. Or when I hear somebody hasn't seen a movie I think it's very important for them to see I go out of my way to purchase them a copy of that DVD. Until today I didn't realize how often that scenario happens. I always thought I was just trying to promote a few of my favorite sources of entertainment, but I'm beginning to realize that I am actually starting to care about making other people happy.
There's a theory that nobody is ever truly altruistic, that the satisfaction one receives in being philanthropic is the compensation one receives. In a sense that is true, but I highly doubt in the scale of things that words of gratitude and smiles of appreciation ever truly measures up to the money and effort put out to provide such words and smiles. I can tell you today just to give out the shirt involved driving thirty miles out of my way, spending two hours of my day for probably a five minute conversation (and free shake, as well as the loss of time in working on other so-called "worthwhile" projects like my novel. But I totally feel justified. In that line, waiting for her to have a moment to talk, I felt better knowing that I wasn't thinking about what I was giving up; all I could think about was that I had come far in my process of being a better person.
I know I have a long way to go. In those same months my cousin Vincent has put me to shame in his generosity. Not only does he routinely get the check for dinner, but he more than puts himself out in other ways. He has offered his time in more than one circumstance. Just today he offered to do me a favor that I wasn't really looking for him to volunteer for. He's just that kind of a person. He sees a need he's capable of filling and he volunteers himself. I think I have a long way to go when it comes to matching him in good deeds done. But I'm glad to acknowledge myself that I am working on that aspect of myself for the better.
About the only thing I feel somewhat badly about in the way things went down today was that I didn't have an opportunity to wash the shirt before I gave it to Carly.
Hey, I can't remake myself entirely so soon now can I?