Friday, January 8, 2016

Action and Abundance

Having a body can be such a chore.
Ram Dass says our bodies are like ten-fingered space suits we get issued for our lifetime, and I always liked that image. He doesn't mention this, but the suits need a lot of maintenance to function well.

I love being inactive.
Spiritually, intellectually, and grammatically, I am well suited to sitting around all the time. A fall spent editing, blogging, sew-and-chatting, and drinking coffee (or beer) felt right.
Even physically: I had no aches or pains. 

But---there just has to be a but---the other night I dreamed I was too weak to get up off my bed on the floor.
I'm not, but I have become pretty much of a pudding. 

So, it's back to the YW, which I have been so generously supporting with my monthly dues. I went to a weight-lifting class yesterday and worked at half-speed, but today I am sore.
Of course I also worked all afternoon at the Thrift Store, which is surprisingly physical... 

Today I am going to take action in another way:
I am going to buy a case of soda pop for my fellow thrift volunteers.

I'm doing this with a mix of ill will and humor:
I'm incredibly annoyed that the Board does not provide the volunteers anything to drink. I just found out that one of the staff members pays for the coffee that's on hand.

I formally requested that the store supply us with pop months ago.  The store is, as you can imagine, incredibly dusty and dry. (In fact, I'm sure the air must be unhealthy.)

But I've never seen a place that is so stingy toward volunteers. 
I think there may be a cultural thing at work.
The governing Board is made up of rich people from the Methodist Church (that started and still oversees the store) who seem to think we volunteers don't deserve any support.

And the volunteers---the church ones, anyway--seem to agree.
When I asked another volunteer about lowering the temperature in the sorting area––it was so hot, I couldn't even work there–– she said she didn't know how and didn't want to ask because,

"I hate to bother them..."

"Them?" I said, "Who's them? They're paid staff. We're not bothering them, we're working for free."

How would Catholics be different?

Well, first let me say, I'm generally more aligned on social issues abotu sex & gender with the Methodists, who fly rainbow colors on Pride, than I am with Catholic Church.
But in my experience, for things like pop for volunteers, well... Catholic volunteers might not ask for things for themselves, but they'd be more likely to ask on behalf of others.
They might not complain about the temperature, but they might try to help if they saw that someone else was uncomfortable.

The Catholic culture may be about self-denial, but it's not about denying the other person in front of you:
in my time at the Church, food and drink was always on offer. 

My Catholic auntie says her life philosophy is abondanza: abundance. 
She always keeps a lot of food in the freezer, for instance. 
"Not for myself," she explained, "but so I always have plenty to offer other people." 

The Thrift Store Board is not generous toward others. They throw an annual party for volunteers that is inaccessible by bus, for instance, thus excluding the many volunteers like me who don't drive. Further, the party does not include wine or beer because, someone told me, the hosts don't believe in it.
 This is definitely a cultural divide.
Catholics believe in wine. And, if you suggest it, car pools. (I'd suggested car pooling to the Board, but they didn't take up the idea. I did not attend.)

Yesterday when I cashiered at the Thrift Store, I asked my boss again if we were ever going to get pop.
"Give it up," he said. "That's not going to happen."

And later he went to a nearby convenience store and came back with a big Dr. Pepper... which he did NOT offer to share with me.

I got the message. 

That afternoon, a customer, Bart, who lives nearby told me about his annual Christmas Eve party: 
EVERYONE is invited---he even announces his party at the Thrift Store--and he fries eggs and bacon & toasts bread for everyone who shows up, which is mostly homeless folks from the neighborhood.
"Can I come this year?" I asked.

"Absolutely," he said. "Please come!" 

There's my model: If the store won't give drink to the thirsty, I will.
Having written that out here, now I don't even feel grumpy anymore. I don't volunteer to serve the Board, who I avoid at all costs, I volunteer to be among people like Bart. 
They are the ones who feed me. 

And now, I am going to the YW with bink. Her father has moved into hospice and is not long for this world... 

Really, it reminds me not to get too worked up over other people. This life is short. We all have our own philosophies about how to get through it best. I will follow mine.


Michael Leddy said...

Hooray for generosity and hospitality.

I posted something today, before reading your post, about mortality and doing things (from a podcast). Do what you can seems like good advice.

Zhoen said...

Good for you.

I used to bring in tea to work, because I wanted it, but I shared unstintingly. Within a year, we were supplied with boxes of Bigelow teas, which get used at least as much as the coffee. Some places just need an example. Some won't care, but at least people get taken care of. Generosity has to be taught by example, the morality of reciprocity is pretty hard wired in primates. But some people do their damnedest to ignore it.

Fresca said...

Thanks, Michael & Zhoen.
As I blogged about today, my little plan didn't go so well...

"Do What I Can" may mean Take a Break, at this point.