Give More Than You Take

So I was thinking just now about how much people expect out of life.

I mean, some of it’s good. We expect some basic respect, and an end to discrimination, and human dignity and living space and enough food to eat. But I think we also expect some weird things: we think sexual gratification is a right, so the porn industry skyrockets. We think our food has to taste good, so restaurants make gads of money. (Technical term: gads.)We expect people to listen to our thoughts, so we write blogs (cough) and Facebook posts and comment on other people’s thoughts when we really want to get somebody’s attention. And how many of these things are really “rights”? More importantly, what are we missing while we’re screaming for them?


Storytime: I went to eat sushi a while ago with my dad. We had a great time, and when we got back, my mom asked how it was. “They never brought our soup!” I said immediately.

The sushi was all-you-can-eat. And my dad paid the check. I got free, unlimited seafood – cooked for me and delivered to my table while I chatted with my dad – and my first reaction was to criticize the experience. What?

If you told your kids they were only getting a $20 gift for Christmas, how many people would have epic tantrums to deal with?

In comparison, I know a homeless guy who was offered a free meal, declined on principle (because he already had enough), then changed his mind, picked up the meal, and gave it to another homeless guy. This man has needs like I’ve never had, but he didn’t feel them – at least not as much as he felt the responsibility to help.

I’m not advocating everybody live on the street, stop giving Christmas gifts, or throw out the Thanksgiving turkey. I just think we’d all enjoy our lives a little more if we put things in perspective and realized that we’re living the high life. (If you’re reading this, you have access to a computer. Think about that.)

There are still things wrong with the world – but I think we’ll all have more to be grateful for when we start being grateful for the things we already have. If we recognize how many things we have, and don’t need, we’ll feel a little less needy. And that puts us in a better position to recognize and help the needs of others. So take a few minutes to notice. Thank your dad (thanks, Dad) for the free meal instead of complaining about the service. Read a book, and point out the parts you like to your neighbor on the train. Wear your favorite perfume, instead of hoarding it for a “special occasion.”

You’re alive! It’s a special occasion.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! ♦



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