Standing up

I’m on the fence about telling you what I did yesterday.

Other Ruth: Do you want to edit out that cliche?

Ruth: I don’t know, this is the way I talk.

OR: You’re not talking, you’re writing. Perhaps, “I’m having trouble deciding whether or not to tell you what I did yesterday” would be better. You know, to avoid, being cliche.

R: It’s not the right voice, though.

OR: Whatever, it’s your post.

R: Where was I?  . . .

I’m on the fence about telling you what I did yesterday. One side of the fence is my Grandma’s camp. Total WASP humility. One should do good works, give generously and keep it on the down low – just like that Bible verse. I think it was a Bible verse, I’m not even really sure because it wasn’t quoted or anything around the house. I just know that the concept of maintaining all forms of modesty — at all costs — flowed hard from my maternal ancestry. Familial moral codes are weird, too, because I don’t even remember this value being pushed with the spoken word (except that one time; I’ll spare you today). Come to think of it, the ethic must have been modeled. I learned from what wasn’t done, from what wasn’t said.

The other side of the fence is my belief that when we let people know what we’re up to, we might actually encourage them to follow suit.

Other Ruth: Bridge cliche now?

Ruth: It’s a common figure of speech.

OR: If you want to be common.

Anyone who knows me knows that I do an okay job of beating out my heritage on this front. That is to say, I usually share openly about whatever it is that I’m up to. I just get so excited, I can’t resist sharing. So I’m going to tell you.

Other Ruth (eyes rolling): Surprise. Surprise.

I had an incredibly great day yesterday. You know how some days, you get it right? You budget your time to include enough of most important elements to be fulfilling? Well, short of getting some low impact cardio, yesterday was like that for me. I think it’s because rather that starting the day harvesting my imaginary artichoke crops at Farmville, I showered and drove to Common Ground (awesome place!) in Santa Monica where I helped bag groceries.

Now, I’m not saying this to be all self-congratulatory. I mean, I have a friend who has been quietly doing this for years. I have another friend who has spent Saturdays (for nearly a decade!) working at a food bank out in the valley. I bet half of you reading this probably do regular philanthropic activity. The reason why I’m broadcasting my one hour of unpaid labor is because I’m so grateful.

No, really. It’s such a privilege to be invited into new places and to be made welcome and to feel useful. If all I ever did in life was earn money, surf the net and spend money, I’d rot from the inside out.

Other Ruth (mid sigh): Cliche . . .

Yesterday reminded me that one key factor in my future happiness is going to be making regular service a priority. I’m not talking about fund raising and writing checks. I’m talking about going out into the world and working elbow to elbow with people. I’m not fooling myself into thinking this is selfless; no, it’s a selfish attempt at wholeness. And there’s no shame in that.

Because I’ll tell you something, while I was there counting out jars of peanut butter and bagging cans of pineapple, Other Ruth was silent.


“Holidailies participants solemnly vow to update their Web sites daily from Dec. 7 to Jan. 6. . . . “ Day 18.

One thought on “Standing up

  1. I agree. When I dream of winning the lotto (which will prob NEVER happen because I don’t play the lotto – {{details}})… I always comment, “if I were a ca-trillionaire… I would quit my job and do REAL volunteer work.” Yes… like I would go somewhere and have a regular schedule to volunteer my time to do something that makes a difference. This “something” would probably involve homeless and/or abused children and/or children and women… who knows! Good for you! Way to go! Thanks for sharing! It must have felt great.

    Thanks, Nap’. That’s a great lotto fantasy. Isn’t it overwhelming choosing where to get involved? It feels like we each have a tiny ice pick and this giant wall to break down. Some people focus on making a one inch round hole all the way through one spot, whereas I feel like I’m running up and down the wall making one little stab here & one little stab there. I’ve come to realize that it’s not the breaking down of the wall that matters, it’s the building of relationships and the transformation in individuals (like me) that’s important. This reminds me of a poem I heard once, I’ll try to find it. I’ll tell my fam you want lotto tickets in your Christmas cards from now on. :)

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