Here’s Sunday again and I’ve been rolling several ideas around while prepping my weekly salad pile for lunches. Yea, I am one of those meal prep people…
I decided on a discussion of the cheapest mythical gift one can give. Tis the season for kindness and goodwill toward all animal kind, humans included. I say mythical because there is a rather dubious nature to this gift. One of my favorite episodes of Friends, “The One Where Phoebe Hates PBS.” is all about it and Phoebe, somehow, is the one who really makes us think…Phoebe, right?! Who knew…
Selfless Good Deed, real or myth? Do we ever really do kind things for others without reaping a sort of self serving benefit? We can go like tunnel to China deep here, but in case you are unfamiliar with the premise let me offer an abbreviated version: the things we do that we think are kind and good are actually our own selfishness masquerading as a good deed. Your motivation is under interrogation. Who you? No.. Me?..ALL OF US…Are we capable of doing nice things without benefiting in even the most subtle ways? Does that matter?
Cue the music…
When we, I say we because my neighbors met her first, but when we first met Mopsy, all of us thought she was a stray. Through a strange turn of events, we learned who her owners were and that they left her outside all the time. We all kept doing nice things for her though…first it was water and a snack and then there was this:
I decided to leave a small hand towel out on our front steps for her to warm up her fuzzy buns and little paws. This started in September last year. As long as it was dry, I left it out and she always showed up there, every morning to say hi and every evening to say good night without fail. We weren’t allowing her in the house at this point in time because the temperature wasn’t particularly harsh and she wasn’t asking to come in, so it seemed like the best I could offer. Just wanted to do something nice. Tiny good deed. Or was it? I think doing nice things for animals usually qualify as a S.G.D. because all I hoped for in that moment was to make her comfortable. To make a small cozy spot in our hard world for her. Underneath I’m sure it was also because she brightened my mood every time I saw her. I knew she would show up if I put that towel out. She was a smile on four legs. Go ahead, call me selfish…
Animals are amazing like that. Their kindness to us is just showing up for us. They let us pet them and our blood pressure actually goes down. They show up tails waging when you open the door. You smile. They snuggle with you and for those of you who allow it on the menu, they will kiss you. I guarantee they are not running a mental tab of their behavior as it relates to a payoff from us. They are in it just because it’s what they do. It’s like a natural kindness.
I think the holidays are really hard for most of us. They bring up a lot of memories that are not all warm and fuzzy. In my professional experiences, I’ve come to realize that the holidays for most people bring the pressure of expectation for creating a holiday wonderland. People have to rub elbows with relatives they would rather not rub any body part with out of perceived necessity. Then there is the Christmas stampede that will soon be here. Tempers, stress and general unease permeates many holiday celebrations making it all feel non-celebratory. How did we arrive here? Were we once animals who did kindness without any thought of what’s in it for me?
SO…Let me offer a challenge to you. Watch that Friends episode and go fourth young people and do good deeds! Stupid little good deeds with no motivation other than being a nice human. I say stupid not because it’s dumb, but because it’s stupid easy!! What does that look like? SAY HI TO STRANGERS! ( Am i serious? YES.) SMILE AT PEOPLE. ( Not like a creeper.) OPEN THE DAMN DOOR FOR PEOPLE. (All the way open!!) SAY THANK YOU. (Really, were you born in a barn?) SINCERELY COMPLIMENT STRANGERS. (That’s a pretty bracele!) LET THAT LADY HAVE THE DAMN PARKING SPOT. (I am so F*king serious about this one. Walking will not kill you!!) IF THE KID IN LINE DOESN’T HAVE CHANGE, GIVE IT TO THEM. (Kindness to kids cannot be underestimated.) STOP HONKING THE DAMN HORN, CARS DON’T MAGICALLY GO FASTER BY HONKING.(Don’t even get me started on this one…)
I keep mentioning strangers because what do you have to gain by being nicer to someone you don’t know? Hmmm. Well, maybe we’re all Who’s down in Whoville, which one of you really wants to be the f*cking Grinch? Trust me here, your heart will grow at least three sizes by just trying a little of all of the above. I promised you joy, there it is my friends. THERE IT IS!!
THIS. That is a mail box made out of a plastic cat litter box. THIS is a resourceful human, ingenuity at it’s finest and an homage to their feline kin…who thinks of this stuff? Every time I drive by this, I smile/giggle…my hat off to you sir/madam!!
Happy Holidays Indeed!!!