Today was my thirty-sixth birthday. The family and I took a roadtrip to Olympia and picked up a sewing supply, some bra and panties for yours truly (a long overdue purchase, and after we left the shop I told Ralph, “It’s expensive to have goodies,” and he responded, “As someone who was a woman the other day, I can say it’s worth it!”), and a creamy lemon-yellow faux leather coat, what I am now calling my Birthday Coat. The only thing that would make that coat cooler is if it was real leather. I still feel kind of sleek and sophisticated in it even though I am wearing plastic. That almost calms me down more, even, it feels nice and junky in this beautiful way that fits me. On our way home we stopped at an awesome barbecue restaurant and ordered whatever we felt like.
Our cars are both in a bit of trouble and if we don’t do something about them we will soon be without. The truth is life is (I choose to view it as anyway) a delicate dance alternatively weighing say, a muffler for Ralph’s car or a fuel distribution fix for mine (or my door seals, driver’s side door handle, and window and lock switches), versus groceries versus gifts for birthdays (both the kids’ are coming up) versus birthday parties versus a scholarship for another family versus a vacation for us this year (to be realistic: unlikely at this point) versus the orthodontist services now recommended for my son versus my daughter’s desire to enroll in martial arts versus the theramin I’ve wanted to buy Ralph 4EVER versus (back to being practical:) much-needed clothing for the four of us versus vet visits for the pets (we recently healed Hamilton’s neck bite using a homemade version of a “cone”, antibacterial cream, and vigilance – there’s $80, saved) versus fabric for my sewing ventures versus day trips or eating out for the family and then there are the things that aren’t options at the moment given our current survival-mode, like college fund and house downpayment and “nest eggs” or “six months’ living expenses” saved up. Anyway our car trouble and this little juggle of this or that is nothing unique, nothing new, and nothing I’m complaining about – just something I’m documenting.
Yet I have to be very careful at this juncture to represent myself correctly. I patently refuse to let that above stuff, and the bits I’m forgetting right now, make me start to get panicky and obsess about what we “should” have, what I want, what I want for the kids – and thereby stop helping others. For one thing: a few years ago I opened my blog up for donations and my readers have responded with so much generosity there is Absolutely. No. Cause for me to complain. Ever. No matter what happens here on out.
But also there’s this bit about how, my life circumstances are similar as they’ve been since having children, but I am different. And that’s something I’d like to try to articulate, here and now. For years I spent a great deal of time feeling angry or frustrated at what seemed like Scarcity and unfairness. It was a big mess and you’ll excuse me if right now, at almost 11 o’clock in the evening after a lovely day, I don’t want to go down memory lane to remember how much stress, shame, blame, guilt, and resentment I used to swim in, and mostly how it left very little for me to GENUINELY give to others. No, what I was thinking is when I wrote the paragraph about our family’s needs and wants, well cars and car troubles are like groceries or like the kids growing bigger and needing new clothes or like vet bills or unforseen dramas: they will never be “fixed” and there will never be a lack of work to keep sucking air and keeping warm, or put another way:
there will never be a lack of opportunity to experience gratitude.
I have a little shrine in my home and daily I make offerings and say prayers. Every single day I try to help people with no regard for return, and that means no regard for payback, status, love, people liking or esteeming me, et cetera. I only reveal it here so that if anyone ever wonders how I live and how I’ve lived through so much drama they can know that a steady, non-exciting, daily, ritualistic, footwork practice of altruism and prayer has done more for me than anything else. ‘Nuff said.
Helping people with no regard for return, and yes making the time and money and resources to do this even with the so-called difficulties posted above (and sometimes more besides), even if I go without (no problem!) or the kids go without (now that can be hard), well the funny thing about this practice is it builds a Person in a way that no scrambling-after can, and one day I look and I see that I like the person I am and I like living with me, and I also see deeply how the Universe provides abundance.
I had a wonderful day with my family, in my plastic jacket and forty-year old car that makes so much noise people glare, and my kids with the many hugs and kisses they give me, and my husband with his strong hard hands and I hold his hand in the car,
and I’d like every day to be a little more like today, if possible.