Caring for other invokes karma. The great, fuzzy feel-good kind. And much of caring revolves around food. The essence of nurturing is to meet basic needs. (Not having to cook or do dishes is a bonus.)
I drop off meals for friends who are sick or whose spouse is out of town, and they drop off meals for me and my family when we are in need of an extra hand. We do other things as well, like swapping childcare. But the food thing really gets me.
It is at the heart of what you provide to your family. And how you sustain yourselves. It is something very unique and almost intimate to give away, like you are giving away a part of yourself (your time, and effort and love did go into it – so a piece of you does travel with your food.)
I think if every one of us gave away a little more of ourselves, our world would benefit. I know mine does. The giving itself is a gift. I feel fortunate to be in the position to help other people. Or maybe the help I’m giving is to myself. As long as I give without expectations. The moment I give something and EXPECT something in return (like giving a homeless man $20 and expecting him to do something specific with the cash, like put it towards future rent instead of beer) I loose the meaning of giving, and end up disappointed.
Before Christmas one of my dear friends set up a help the homeless ‘bag’ program involving all her close friends. She looked up online to find necessities that would fit in a large plastic bag to give out to those less fortunate. (juice boxes, energy bars, socks, toothbrushes, razor, kleenex, cough drops, bandaids…)
My husband had issues with what middle class housewife thought was a necessity for a homeless person. I was mad at first, because I was helping dammit! And doing good. But later I got to thinking…who am I really to think I know what a person living on the street really needs?
Maybe, possibly we should have stocked the bags with beer, lotto tickets, bus tickets and cigarettes. I know there are days that my glass of wine helps to dull the monotony (or child-screaching). And my husband did have a point, on the long list of everyday struggles a homeless person has, I’m not sure that having hand sanitizer (or not) is one of them. Who am I to tell anyone what they need? If they don’t need it they won’t listen to me anyway, and it likely won’t be well received.
So the next time I was out I actually asked a homeless person what he wanted. He replied a hot chocolate. It wasn’t rocket science. It didn’t break the bank. It also wasn’t life changing. But maybe that little bit of effort on my behalf to acknowledge another human being, and give him what he wanted made a difference. And if not to him, it made a difference to me.
It’s hard for me to give sometimes. I have all these beliefs about what people should be doing with their lives, and work ethic and self motivation. But then I stopped one day and thought about it. All of those things are MY things. And to place them on someone else isn’t for me to do. Trying to control the world is hard work. So I try to stop the nonsense, and only control myself and my actions. Giving is one of those actions.
So my attitude today is to go forth and just give. If people ask for what they need then all the better – I can give them what they ask for. And my lesson is to not expect anything.