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Helping others. For fun.

What makes me smile looking back on my day? It’s not the $5 I spent on a that new thing, or the $5 I saved with that special coupon; it’s the $5 that I gave to Tom the bottle guy. (Here in Maine we have a bottle law so people collect empties for money). When I ran into Tom on the street I didn’t have any empties to give him, or time to go get some from my office, and then it occurred to me: “I could just give him $5.” What a fun idea!

“But he didn’t earn it,” says a voice in my head. There’s another voice that says, “If you give people money they will just use it for drugs or alcohol.” And another voice says, “You’re creating dependency. Tom should get a job.” I used to listen to these voices. Today I don’t. Today I listen to the voice that says, “If a fellow human is in dire straits, help them if you can.”

My decision whether or not to hand someone a $5 bill doesn’t need to be a whole big statement about my political principles. In that moment I don’t need to be all thoughtful or righteous or care what people think. What’s gonna make me feel good? I make it a heart thing not a head thing.

And today, I don’t give with strings. I used to say, “Now you’re gonna spend this on food, right?” Or, “I won’t give you money but I’ll buy you a meal.” And I would feel so righteous about applying my big morality in this little situation. Today I honor the dignity of the asker. I don’t impose my views about how they should spend their money. I try to treat them as an equal, walking along with me, a lateral transfer.

Lately I’ve been helping to deliver furniture to asylum seekers. No big deal, just a couple deliveries here and there. Yet look at this family and how happy they are with their new couch. This family had been sitting on the floor of their living room. And eating on the floor of their kitchen. And sleeping on the floor with no mattresses. Now at least they have a couch. How fun is that!

Just because I give to you doesn’t mean less for me. That’s an old voice in my head. Today when I give to you my heart gets full. I make fun for myself by doing stuff for others. The needs can seem so great and the world can seem so heavy. That doesn’t mean we have to be sad and forlorn and give up on joy. Just do whatever you can wherever you can and have fun with it. That’s what I say. That’s the voice I listen for today.

11 thoughts on “Helping others. For fun.

  1. yes, so glad you shared that….one has those thoughts, questions, smiles, worries…

    so great to just go for it in spontaneity!!!

  2. Thanks everyone for your comments. They are SO appreciated.

    Terry’s story reminds me of this idea: “Try to to something nice for someone every day, and not get caught.”

  3. Craig – thank you for sharing. I will take a moment to share back…As the 2023 holidays approached, some kind person started a thread on FB asking neighbors to identify anything they were in need of. The response was beautiful. Nearly everyone who posted a need found someone local who was able to fill that need, no strings attached. There was one post that listed a personal item, not something that could be passed on or re-purposed. My husband and I messaged her privately and provided her the money to meet her need. The only requirement was that she not share the source of the funds. This was our holiday gift to the universe, and it continues to bring us joy daily. We have never met the recipient and probably never will; but we are confident her circumstances are better – and we are certain that our are. Hugs to you this February day!

  4. Yes! Beautiful and inspiring Craig! Thank you for the reminder. Sending many blessings your way ~ Joyce Bailey

  5. And perhaps “Tom” lost his job in the 2008 Recession, and Tom is over 50 years old, and so no one will hire him. Or perhaps Tom had to leave work to help his parents, and then lost his home not working. There are so many stories about Tom that you can not even imagine. Life is hard and sometimes becomes all untangled. It is absolutely humiliating asking for help when resources have all run dry. So, help someone not feel humilated, give them back some dignity and respect, give them money with no judgement.

  6. Hey Craig, I love how simple you make the giving process by making it a heart process. It’s all those head voices (and thanks for naming some of them) that make things complicated. Leading from the heart let’s me relax (the voices) and enjoy the giving. And it doesn’t mater if anything comes back, I’ve already reaped the rewards in the enjoyment. Thanks for the reminder — and bringing this simple/profound piece of wisdom into the GGD forum.

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