I’ve been thinking a lot about giving and receiving – not tangible things like gifts, but time, attention, correspondence. And I’ve been focusing on those who have not given me these things. It irks me, to say the least, because I’m someone who A) doesn’t have a great fondness for people in general, yet B) does his best to do the right thing. My dissatisfaction has caused me to do something as rash as unfriending almost all of my blood relations from Facebook.
But my whole philosophy is wrong. I should not focus on those who failed to help me; I should celebrate those who have helped me. Because, in this life, nobody owes you anything. Your dad provided the seed, and your mom the egg and 9 months rent. From then until you’re dead, obligations are nil.
If we offer ourselves under the assumption that we’ll get something in return, the deed is tainted. We just can’t do that. We have to give of ourselves with abandon and with no expectation. Often, just doing this is more rewarding than we could have imagined.
Other people are unpredictable, scary. I’ve always said what keeps me humble is the fact that I have no idea how others view me. What they portray and what they think can be two different things. I try to be attentive, but the truth is I have no idea. So I need to work hard and hope for the best. Meanwhile, I often shy away from even the act of requesting help. Because who am I? What right do I have to make such a request?
But many, many people have, in fact, helped me. They’ve bought my novel, attended my shows, gave me words of encouragement, offered me advice. Even people I don’t know have given to me. It hasn’t always been the right key to fit the door I wanted to open at that time, but that’s on me not them. What matters is their effort.
So if you have ever helped me out, thank you. Chances are I remember it, because it’s important for me to do so. And if I’ve ever not been there for you – several specific incidents are at the forefront of my mind – I’m sorry. I am as guilty of failing to give as any person – more than most, I’d imagine.