Friday, September 28, 2012

Well, That Covers It

Do you ever find an image that basically says everything you want to say more precisely and succinctly than you could ever find a way to say it yourself?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Thoughts on Generosity

I've been thinking lately about my life, and about what makes my life feel worthwhile.  I think that if I were to look back in my old age and think about all of the hard work I've done, and where it has gotten me, I would have to say that what I am most grateful for is that my work has given me the opportunity to become generous.  My life has not left me well off in any way, but I have come into a life that is comfortable, and has allowed me with the ability to spread some of my good fortune to the world around me.  I don't think that, upon first look at me or my life or my strange little family, anyone would immediately be able to say "She is a generous person", but I sort of wonder if maybe that's the whole point.  I think that generosity done for the public and announced to everyone is somehow seeking gratification.  The people who do generous things without announcement, without expectation of gratification, and without expectation of receiving anything in return, I think those are the people who are doing things for the right reasons.

I've been thinking about what people I know consider being generous, and I've realized that so many times the word "generous" is automatically associated with money.  So often we think of those who make large charitable donations are the generous people in our world.  People who remember tragedies with a prayer and a check in the mail to support those who have suffered are considered the generous members of our society.  I think the problem with this is that while money helps, and money can do a lot of things, this attitude negates the good work done by people every single day who aren't capable of spending a dime.  Generosity can be found in the teacher who stays two hours after school to tutor their students so that they don't fail classes.  It's in the little league coach who spends hours teaching a kid how to throw the perfect curve ball.  It's in the volunteers all over this country who work in soup kitchens, or cuddle kittens at the Humane Society, or visiting the elderly.  What I've learned is that it is so much more difficult to give your time than it is to give your money.  Time means giving of yourself, taking time out of your schedule and focusing on something other than yourself.  It is difficult, often, to find time, and to use it helping someone other than yourself.  Money is easy, you can make more of it.  You can't make more time.

I enjoy that I have been able to lead a generous life.  I have been fortunate enough to have time to give, and the ability to give it to things that I've been passionate about and cared about.  I've had a home that I've been able to open to those who need a comforting and safe place to be.  I've had the ability to help people who needed it, and I've been able to make life a little bit easier for a handful of people.  None of it cost me anything, at least not really, but I can't help that it's been a lot of small kindnesses that will some day add up to a lot for someone, and hopefully they can look back and feel like someone helped make a difference.  But I don't often talk about it, and I don't expect any sort of credit or praise.  I just hope that at some point someone will feel better about life, and that I helped make them feel that way.  And I hope that some day, when I am old and gray, I won't look back and wish I could have done more.

These are just things that have been bouncing around in my head lately.

Monday, September 17, 2012

It's In The Small Things

There's something about the changeover from Summer to Autumn that I can't seem to get enough of.  I've never enjoyed the heat of summer, even though I love the longer days and lazy pace that summer brings.  I feel like everything moves slower in the summer out of necessity, because it's simply too hot to be quick about anything.  Something about Autumn is motivating.  It's a time to get back outdoors, when the weather is still lovely enough to enjoy without being too cold, and to enjoy the last bit of good weather before we begin bracing ourselves for the snow and gray skies of winter.  September this year has brought warm days and cool nights, and just enough crispness in the air so far that we can begin to look forward to sweaters and hot cider.  This time of year makes me notice and appreciate all of the little things that make life enjoyable.  Cool nights mean it's no longer unbearable to bake treats at night, so the house has been filled with the smell of cookies, and soon it will be muffins and coffee cakes and comfort foods.  Apples are back in season and they never seem to taste as crisp and delicious any other time of year.  Cider and pumpkins will soon be filling stores.  I've got plans to buy new candles for the house so that it will smell like cinnamon and apple all the time.  

On top of that, this time of year makes me appreciate small comforts.  Fluffy towels right out of the dryer, fresh bed sheets, the warm glow of a room lit by lamps, enjoying a lazy Sunday spent reading a book, freshly polished floors, a hot cup of tea in a heavy stoneware mug, a rack of clean dishes with a clean kitchen and hooded sweatshirts.  Small things that add up to little pieces of happiness that can get you through the day.  I often come off as someone with high expectations, but most of the time it's the little details that really matter to me.  It's never the large gifts that make the most difference.  It's the little every day things that matter, the things that I enjoy most.  Time spent with this strange, unconventional little family that we've created in this hodge podge of a house, that has been a highlight of my year so far.  I think that most of the time, we have to create our own happiness, so I'm glad that I can take so much joy in such small details of my life, however briefly they may last.

A Few Words About Words

I was sitting in my living room yesterday reading a book, and it got me thinking about how interesting the written word is.  I mean, if you think about it, the invention of writing itself is a friggin' miracle.  Somewhere between crawling out of the primordial ooze and present day, we as a collective species managed to figure out a written language, which then evolved into hundreds of written languages, simply because we thought that there were important things out there that needed to be said, and recorded, and remembered.  We went from hieroglyphs to rudimentary written word to full fledged language all in the short time that man has walked this Earth.  Now we're here reading things that were written hundreds of years ago, and forming religions based on books written centuries ago.  So much of our culture is based on what people have written down ages before we were born.  Countries are founded on written documents, laws are still made based on those documents, and there are those who have been lucky enough to have their literature endure the test of time.  When you stop and think about it, it's pretty mind blowing.

When I was reading my book yesterday I sat there wondering how many other people have read this book, and how many people loved it, or hated it?  How many people in this world have picked up the same volume I'm currently reading and said "Hey, this has changed my life"?  I think that's one of the things that's so great about any sort of writing, that it lasts and that it can trigger the same emotion in one person as it does in someone else millions of miles away and that now these two people who may never meet still have some sort of unspoken connection to one another.  I like to imagine that other people are like me and that they read about a place in a book and realize that they want to go to that place and experience it for themselves to see if it lives up to everything they've read in books.  Sometimes, when I'm walking through a new city that I read about in a book, I wonder if someone else is in that city for the exact same reason, walking the same street and that in some strange way we are sharing the same moment without even realizing it.  That's what makes it so awesome, that all over the world, people can have the same experience without having to be together. 

Anyway, it was just something I was thinking about.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Finding Words

There have been several times in the past few weeks that I've sat down and thought "I really want to write something" but before I can even log into my account, I find myself too weary to put my thoughts into coherent sentences and I stop before I can even begin.  The depth of things that are going through my head and the things that I might want to talk about is so great that I can't figure out where to start.  I don't want to make this blog all about a bunch of whining or talking about my thoughts that I think are deep and profound but I fear are little more than the musings of someone who has very little depth to them, and very little to say.  I have trouble finding the words to express the things I'm thinking, or worse, feeling, and I can't seem to figure out how to put everything in order.  I'm working on it.  I'll let you know how it goes.