Paying it forward serves higher purpose than selfIt’s nearing the end of July and the weather has been unusually hot and humid. Today is the first in many that isn’t downright steamy and the temperature hasn’t quite hit 90 degrees.
By: Judith Liebaert, Superior Telegram
It’s nearing the end of July and the weather has been unusually hot and humid. Today is the first in many that isn’t downright steamy and the temperature hasn’t quite hit 90 degrees.
This is not exactly the type of weather conducive to any kind of serious culinary effort. I’d rather be mixing up cold salads, plating cold cuts, and stirring tall pitcher of iced tea.
Yet I’ve just finished ladling a large pot of homemade soup into two quart-size jars. There are a few reasons why I’m subjecting myself to this sweaty labor, but the only important reason is that somebody is counting on me.
For the last three months, I’ve been preparing meals for a family member whose husband has cancer. She works full time and I understand her plight. I know what it’s like to come home after a day at the office only to begin the second shift of caretaking, cleaning, cooking, laundry, yard work and all those chores that don’t go away simply because there is no time to do them.
Regardless of how many valid reasons I could list for bowing out of this volunteer duty this week — for instance my own recent surgery — I don’t want to let her down.
I’m not helping out in this way to earn points in heaven or improve my karma. I’m not even doing it to be a nice person or particularly to be nice to her. I’m doing it simply because it needs doing regardless of any surrounding circumstances.
I have long since stopped huffing and puffing that when my husband was convalescing and I was caretaking, there were no meals showing up on my doorstep. Such wheel spinning is useless in moving my life forward.
As we age, we seem to divest ourselves of the unessential fuss and stuff that once seemed so important. I still have a long way to go, but I am learning to jettison the drama in favor of more time-honored virtues.
I know its passé to complain that the younger generation is heading to Hades in a hand basket and carrying the rest of us along with them. Our parents said the same about us in the ’60s, their parents said it about them in the ’40s, and our great-grandparents said it about gramps and grams in the ’20s. Still, it does seem that some important guidelines have gotten lost in all the time travel.
Certain protocols are being left by the wayside. More than niceties that make our life journey an easier path, they are the foundation of humanity. Bring food when people are sick or someone one dies; go to memorial services and funerals even though you find it emotionally difficult. Visit the lonely, the sick and the shut-in; hug them, because they are skin-hungry. Give food and clothing to the needy. Be tolerant of those you don’t like so much, for the sake of those you love.
Don’t look for paybacks. Instead think about how you can pay forward. A friend shared a quote with me recently. It says far better than I can, why we do these things.
“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.” — George Washington Carver.
These simple words can remind us that while you or I may be wiser, stronger, richer, healthier or wield power over somebody else, we are also more ignorant, weaker, poorer, more stricken and less powerful than the next somebody we might encounter.
The task I have submitted to puts me in service to another. It is a great vantage point for learning of what I’m made. It is both humbling and heartening. In that I realize that I am, after all, doing it for myself as much as for her.
Judith Liebaert was raised in Superior and now lives in rural Douglas County. She blogs online as the Mad Goddess™. Send your comments or story ideas to email@example.com.