Always for Others
A Burden that is a Blessing
I have an awful default setting to compare myself to successful people. It’s like a motion detector system to avoid me getting into too much of a good mood. Then a process begins though of trying to poison my comparison. It naturally winds its way through “well that person is blessed not to have mental issues or anxiety” and then it always concludes in the final resting spot of “Well, I mean their career has been very singularly focused, they don’t truly do much for others.” The only problem is that my career doesn’t touch others. In that way, I feel a void that I truly feel needs to be filled for me to continue with recovery.
Perhaps that is the AA model. You are on the phone so much checking in with others that you finally get outside yourself. You serve yourself by downgrading your own emphasis. The phone is like the gym. You find any reason that you’re not up for it; you don’t feel 100% (mood), you’re tired, or you want to justify skipping by “listening to your body.” Yet, if you take the leap and just make the damn call, you feel better. It can be a mood changer. You force yourself to laugh or care about someone else’s wellbeing more than your own. Anytime I chicken out and just send an email I feel I am letting anxiety win. A lot of times it does. Putting yourself at the back of the line in your own mind is I feel the only way to keep obsessing anxiety at bay.
I write a lot about the whimsical little moments in life, when a stranger smiles at you, is shocked you hold open a door, or does some random good deed when you least expect it. You feel that momentum and look to pay it forward in some regard. You do this because you feel you are “it”; you can’t just revel in this self-luck, you need to pass it on, because the feeling will only amplify in the motion of giving. I get downright comical in the way I try to “live for others.” I admit it is completely manufactured and not in the least Mother Theresa. I feel I need to get creative in that my commuting lifestyle with two kids doesn’t give me the opportunities to go to soup kitchens or after-school programs. But when you’re on the go in life, creative really just means simplicity in my own typical finance bro modus operandi; tipping!
There is a story I always think of with my brother. He lives in North Carolina, and if that upgrade in weather and affordability isn’t enough versus my busy-body colonized Northeast, he also lives on a golf course. I love visiting him because it is easy to sneak out just the two of us while not declaring WWIII with our wives; he knows all the short cuts of the course to be efficient with our time. I enjoy how he likes to show off the little customs of the course and especially flex how cheap everything is! As we were out one time, the requisite cute cart girl came around which elicited a “It’s Thursday, 2 for $2 PBRs!” My guess is since this was a few years ago (I was drinking), in 2022 this deal certainly no longer exists, but that is simply shocking to me. Like that is free. That is just kind of an injustice to the server! She came by, he asked for the deal, and I gave her a $20 and told her to keep it (not because she was cute! because of the absurdity of what this would cost anywhere else — why should the people that work at bars with low price drinks not get the same natural % tipping expectation that is seen with $50 wine bottles?). My brother looked at me as if I wrote her a check. “That’s a big tip brother.” Without thinking, I just responded, “Yeah, I don’t volunteer enough.” To be clear, this is not me thinking that donations are a substitute or replacement for genuine human involvement. It’s my way of trying to somehow overcompensate for what I think is one of life’s only “everybody wins” dynamics. A natural need to feel the slightest bit complete.
My ways of being creative with connection and random acts are not always just giving money, but a lot of times they are. I have left notes, and cards, and those funny stoopwaffle things. I have often paid for the person behind me. One time I was drunk in an airport in Seattle and wanted to pay for the Subway sandwich of the veteran behind me without him knowing. I stood in the distance sketchily lurking to watch as if this was some sort of perverse pleasure. My old drunk self literally just gave away money. It was like my way of saying sorry to the universe. Giving as much to the charitable gods as to the gods of vice.
Anyway, today, make that unusual call. In this day in age if its not pre-meditated via text, that person won’t answer. They may be shocked that you left a voicemail though and that voicemail voice will force you to pretend to act happy and get you outside your mood. I might get daring with cheap thrills and try this with my high school girlfriend turned small town good friend who I always dream about for extra kicks. I won’t be creepy. Leave that note. Tell the server they are doing an absurdly good job. Find a way to make a small difference, even if its not your lifes work, it can embody the life of a small moment.