Saturday, October 1, 2011

Giving As I See It

I believe the best giving happens when selfish and selfless learn to coexist. A selfish soul has nothing to offer the world. He does, but he won’t give it. He is too focused on his own pleasure. It is like the man who accumulates wealth, but who hoards it. He does a very nice job of decorating the vault, but for what good? The man who is selfless to the point of self-neglect, on the other hand, becomes the martyr, becomes the soul who loses himself, who fails to love himself, in loving others. It is the man who feeds himself first, rather, the man who keeps himself strong and nourished, vibrant and energized, who has much to throw out at the world, who has much to offer. It is the man who knows what fuels his soul that is able, then, to go and fuel the souls of others.

What fuels YOUR soul?

As for me, I need long walks in nature, watching the birds, the butterflies, breathing in all that is green from the tall grasses to the rustling leaves, soaking up the warm sunshine on my bare shoulders, and, corny as it sounds, becoming one with all that is around me, sending out my innermost wishes to the Universe itself. I need mornings in a coffee shop with a latte and a really good friend who makes me laugh. I need books, lots of books, and plenty of quiet alone time to read those. I am sure to include large amounts of side-splitting fun and peaceful reflective moments into my routine each day. Selfish? Yes. But I am fueling my soul. If I get these things I am a happy girl. I have made significant deposits into my personal well-being account, and I have much from which to draw.

I know what I need, and I know what I do. I know when to say no so that I can more often say yes.

I do not make copies. I am not very good at it. Please don’t laugh. It’s true. But I will sit in a tiny student chair in a dimly lit elementary school hallway with some other mother’s seven-year-old, a seven-year-old who is struggling to put sounds to words and to put those words to sentences, a seven-year-old who is struggling to find the joy in reading. I will sit while this child points a finger at the page and follows along with her failed attempts at reading. I will sit, sounding out with her and following along with her, encouraging and praising. I will sit, and I will be energized. But I cannot do this if I am in the faculty lounge waiting for forty pages of busywork to finish printing.

Neither do I do meetings. They bore me. Incredibly. They suck the very life from my entire being. But I will stand for as long as it takes with a student who is struggling to stay in college, who is struggling to keep up his grades, who is struggling just to finish the class, struggling because of life issues, real life issues, not made up issues like Grandma’s third funeral or a nasty pretend case of the flu. I will stand with the student whose father is losing the fight against cancer, whose father is wetting himself and lashing out and dispensing the last of a father’s life lessons to his son, whose father is days from death and has no other family but this twenty-year-old boy who stands in front of me. I will stand for as long as it takes to help him to find his strength, to help him to know that even with this strength it is ok to cry and to struggle with letting go of this man who raised him when his mother wouldn’t, when his mother turned him away and left his life for good. I will stand with the forty-year-old single mother, the very mother who aged out of the foster care system and at eighteen was shown the door, the mother who withstood years of abuse and neglect and who is crying in front of me though she tries very hard to hold it in, who is crying now because she has heard nothing in her life but what is wrong with her, what she cannot do, what she is not capable of, what she will never amount to. I will stand with her. I will stand for as long as it takes and help her to find the light that is inside of her, to help her to see all that she has to offer, all that she has to give. I will stand for as long as it takes, but I cannot do that if I am sitting in a swivel chair listening to a khaki-pantsed full-of-himself go on about procedures and process and the latest incentives for productivity.

It is never wrong to say no. If you say no to what sucks the life from you, you can say yes to what you are here to do. And it is never wrong to love yourself. If you love yourself, you will never tire of loving others.


  1. Tammie,
    This is so good. We share some of the same philosophies.

  2. Thank you, Carol, for the kind words.