Two hundred and eighty-nine

Mid-month recap

It’s almost mid-month and I’m having a frustrating day (as per what usually happens mid-month for me – it’s like “hump day” but for each month).  I’ve tried to contact numerous charities to volunteer for them (started contacting them at the end of last month), and not one of them have contacted me back (that includes the Sally Ann).  A lot of the others require months of application, interviews and training before they allow you to volunteer for them.  I just want to give my time and no one will let me!  The only way around this right now seems to be going along with friends of mine who already volunteer and shadowing them.  I don’t want to make this month all about giving money, but it’s much harder than I anticipated to do good actions other than giving money.

This month has also affected my friendships.  Every time I do a good deed to someone I know, people give me a hard time because they say I’m just doing it for my writing.  I offer friends help that I would have offered any other time and they tell me I’m using them.  Other times when I offer help, people won’t accept it because they think they then owe me something or their pride is hurt.  What is this world coming to that people think that everything everyone does is to get something in return?  There is such a thing as genuine kindness.  That’s what people do for their friends and family – help them when they need help, because they care about them and want them to be happy.  And when someone offers help to a stranger, they are doing it because they can help and it makes them happy to do so.

My friend from yesterday said he was embarrassed by my post because he hates asking for help because he doesn’t want anyone sacrificing anything for him (see his comment on yesterday’s post).  I will admit I was tired when I wrote what I did yesterday at 6:45 AM (far earlier than I ever get up), and I’m sorry I embarrassed him.  I didn’t mean to – I was just writing how I felt at the time.  And for the record, I INSISTED I was going to drive him because I wanted to see him off, I wanted to see him again before he left and I thought it would be much nicer for him than taking a cab.  He did not ask for help, I forced it on him.  Circumstances change, that is life,  and I am happy he is staying in Toronto longer.

But it does bring up a good point about sacrificing (nothing to do with my friend from yesterday).  I don’t really see the problem with sacrificing for your friends, family or community.  Sometimes we do things we don’t want to do because we know it would make our loved ones happy.  Is our world really so self-centred that it’s not acceptable to do a good deed for someone we care about or accept a good deed from someone who cares about us?  When I need help, I am so glad I have family and friends who will spend time to, for example, drive me to my doctor’s appointments when I’m sick even though they really don’t have time to, or come over and cook me dinner when I’m having a bad day.  I need them and I’m so happy they are there for me, just as I will be there for them when they need me.

I was so excited about this month before it started, but it has proven harder than I expected.  Every time I do a good deed I feel like I’m cheating by writing about it – like it has somehow lost its validity as a good deed.  There are things this month I have done that I am not going to write about because I think the people involved will see the good deed differently.  I also don’t get as much pleasure in the nice action when I talk about it.  It’s sometimes more fun to do it in secret or just to accept a thank you and a hug from the person I did it for.  So today’s good deed is a secret and I will think of a plan of attack for the rest of the month to still write about deeds, without taking away from the goodness of them.

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16 thoughts on “Two hundred and eighty-nine

  1. I was at a volunteer session for the 519 Community Centre. While they have more volunteer applicants than they can shake a stick at, hey said apparently the Metropolitan Community Church (the really secular LGBTQ friendly one) is desperate for volunteers, especially around the Christmas season. Might not be your thing, especially if you’re not religious, but it’s one to consider if you’re looking for a volunteer placement.

  2. Of course sacrificing and doing things for friends and family members is valid and an important part of those relationships, but something changes when the personal is then public on a blog. The nature of blogging or shining the spotlight on it changes the act. It goes from having intrinsic value (I care for this person, therefore I do this act) to extrinsic value (I do this act for the external reward).

    As far as the other day goes, It’s not that I think you were explicitly doing anything just so you could blog about it, but after the kind of weekend we had, repairing a lot of the distance between us generated from the last very personal month of blogging in May, it was disappointing that as I (as your friend) was going through a gut-wrenching, stay-up-all-night, momentous life-changing moment, dealing with leaving the people I care about the most, and your first reaction, as you began typing while we were still on the phone, is that this moment was canon fodder for the blog. And in that post I felt reduced to the flaky friend who made you wake up early for no reason.

    Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, and I certainly don’t mean to do so. But I think the thing I would want you to take away is that the good deed is not the physical act of driving a friend to the airport, but the emotional commitment of letting a friend know that you’re there for them – that you’ve got their back whether they actually take you up on it or not, or if they have to cancel.

    What your doing is very hard, treading the line between the public and the personal, even more so when dealing with people in need, which is inherently a vulnerable state. I think this debate that has emerged is valuable (that’s why I bother to respond) and what you’re doing with this blog is valuable as well, and I don’t want you to lose that. Hang in there.

    • I was going to send you a private message responding, but I agree this is a good debate and as it is now out in the world wide web, it might as well continue to be. First of all, I was not driving you to the airport for the external reward (as I’ve said numerous times, I would have done it regardless of whether I was writing the blog or not, and I wasn’t sure I was even going to write about it) and that is what annoys me the most about this. I can’t do one good thing this month without people thinking I’m doing it only for the writing and not because I love the person and want to help and for them to be happy.

      I wrote about it because, although I know you were going through a “gut-wrenching, stay-up-all-night, momentous life-changing moment, dealing with leaving the people I care about the most” moment, you were also the friend who could have texted or called me when you were thinking of changing your flight, instead of having me get up, have breakfast, drink coffee, about to leave and then tell me (and perhaps that is selfish of me to think that). The blog was about sacrificing for the people you care about and yes, rolling with the punches when circumstances change. And of course I have your back whether you take me up on the offer or not, or if you cancel. I was just sharing my honest, what no-one wants the public to know, feelings at the moment. My initial reaction at 6:45 am (after I had put down the phone with you and not when we were talking) was a mixture of slight annoyance that I had three hours sleep and happiness that you were thinking of staying longer. But I fully realize that telling me about whether you were going to leave that day or not was of course not high on your priority list, considering all of the other emotions you were going through and all the decisions you were making.

      On a personal note, that was really low and mean bringing up the month of May. That was a really difficult time in my life that had repercussions that expanded far beyond just the dates I went on. It hurts me that you would bring that up.

  3. Pingback: Three hundred and sixty-six | threehundredsixtysixdays

  4. These are strange times.

    My parents passed away and I was left with lots of extra sheets, towels, and other items. The animal shelter said they only want “white towels”? I mean, you can clean up some spills a few times and chuck them in the trash. There has to be something one can do with them. I find it odd that it is so hard to just volunteer to help out as well. If you have to go through months of training then they might as well just pay you.

    I am a bit confused about people helping each other out as well. My fiance is in school and some of her friends who are more well off have books that they once used in the classes that she is taking now. They tell her that they have these great books yet they never even think of letting her use them. These same people are also ardent church goers. I thought being giving and thoughtful was a basis for their beliefs…even on a human level.

    I think most of us go on Facebook and worry about posting updates about our lives or pictures of cats hugging dogs with happy phrases on them and we are not looking at our “friends” and thinking about if they are unemployed or caring for a sick family member. Even just going on Linkedin and writing a simple recommendation letter could help someone one day. Simple things can go a long, long way.

    • I totally agree. We really do live in a strange world. But hopefully we can change this one step at a time, by paying it forward and inspiring other people to help out.

      But it is pretty silly that people won’t accept coloured towels or that we can’t just volunteer. I’m sure there are reasons for it, but it makes it difficult to help others when there are so many rules.

      • You are right. It is difficult these days because many people are working and their lives are going well. Others were doing well and their lives have been turned upside down. Now they are falling behind on bills, etc. and struggling. On the outside, things look well so no one knows what is going on behind the closed doors.

        Acts of kindness and paying it forward helps!

  5. Greetings!

    You have raised a very good point as to why I didn’t volunteer much, if any, when I lived in Toronto as it does take months, and shots, and what not before you can get in versus smaller cities, such as Calgary, where volunteering is a lot faster, if not within weeks.

    I’m sorry to hear that by non-anonymity in your blog, it has led to misunderstandings at times. I have found the same thing too as some friends just stopped talking to me if I wrote about what I observed or felt. Which is why personally I have kept mine anonymous as well-intending friends want to read my blog, but I simply tell them I’d rather keep it private. Makes it easier to be honest in my writing that way.

    You have been so honest, and forthcoming about your experiences, it is a true treasure that I hope you keep. Be brave, be you in your writing.

    Thank you for sharing! I definitely miss Toronto and all those places you mentioned. If you’re into sushi, Sushi on Bloor (as you probably already know anyways) is amAAAaazing and you are welcomed to have a bite there for me! And anyone else who can’t get $9.99 Bento Boxes by living in Calgary… Sigh….

    Pink

    • Hello again! Thanks for reading and commenting! It’s great to hear a bit of your story as well. It’s definitely hard to find the balance between writing honestly and writing about things that are happening in my life that involve my friends and family. But I also couldn’t have done this project without them reading – as at the beginning it was only them! I totally understand why you made your choice, though. Sometimes I have to edit a little so as not to hurt anyone, and that’s hard.

      I know Sushi on Bloor – very yummy. Although I still miss Vancouver sushi!

  6. I am over the pond in Australia… and in some ways it is easier to volunteer here, but for some things it is not. I am not overly religious, so Christmas Eve rather than attend a mass I wanted to help out at a soup kitchen. Many of them over here are run by religious groups and I was turned down from 3 because I wasn’t part of their religion. I didn’t realise I had to worship God in order to help people – the point should also be made that if I was worshipping God I wouldn’t have been available to help them on Christmas Eve 🙂

    • It’s true a lot of volunteer opportunities are run by religious groups (here as well), and because I’m not overly religious either, it does make it harder!

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