Saturday, April 01, 2006

Be it ever so intricate

I spend a lot of the time with my head in the clouds. The rest with my heart in poison. Sigh. There must be a middle ground. I was thinking about charity today. Charity, as in love. Charity, as in do-gooding. Charity, as in something sustainable that really makes a difference in the life of another person (rather than the hit-and-runs to make oneself feel good for the moment).

My little sister is fantastic at it. She saves her money every month, and when she has collected a whole heap (once a year) she gives it to a friend who has a mission in Kenya. He runs a small school in a little village. He also collects clothes, shoes, etc. which he gives to the women of the village to sell, the women, being the providers in the family. Before this (when I was in Australia and she had my car) she used to also visit the doggie shelter once a week and clear out the cages and take the dogs for a walk. There are Myanmarese refugees nearby who help out at the shelter and she became friends with them. For Christmas she made up two baskets of goodies for them (food, wine, cigarettes) and they were so touched. Nobody does anything nice for them. I only get these stories out of her by persistent questioning. She is very, very quiet about what she does.

I, on the other hand, throw myself into projects and then I run out of money, or my enthusiasm peters out. I stopped going to the doggie shelter because it broke my heart. I was supporting a kid in Mongolia for about a year, then had to stop, as I went back to school, which meant, no income. Sometimes I see a person on the street who looks hungry and I go buy some food for them. Unlike my sister though, my efforts are sporadic. There is no follow through. And most of the time, instead of counting my blessings, I am churning with fury, it grows and grows until I can't breathe.

Yesterday, in the shower, it struck me that charity, true charity, is the function of maturity. It is something you made a commitment to and followed through on, regardless of emotion. A very wise friend, Alexandra, once told me that the problem with most people (here she gave me a penetrating look) was that they based their decisions on emotion rather than logic. But hang on, aren't we supposed to follow our hearts?

"Following your heart and submitting to your emotions are two very different things. Sometimes you know in your heart that something is wrong, but your feelings get the better of you. Emotional blackmail wouldn't work if you didn't go by emotions," she pointed out.

True. And now that my "real life" is starting again, I have to figure out what causes I want to support and follow through. I have to figure out what I, rather than the ubiquitous they think of as worthy causes.

Animals. The environment. Education. Marginalised women. Creativity. Hope to those on the cusp of despair.

There, that wasn't so hard, was it?

Life, be it ever so intricate, is really very simple after all.


goldennib said...

I have felt for a while now that I wish to do something. I sort through all of the good causes in my mind, debating their pluses and minuses, what I'd be able to deal with, who desrves my attention the most and I do nothing.

Jenn said...

I know. Me too. However, at the moment nothing is kinda acceptable because I have not started working, have not received my first paycheck yet. So many things to plan and organise once I do.