Happy Friday! I’ve been busy, and forgot to check in yesterday about my Thursday Lenten progress, so I’ll do that here, as well as today’s.
I’m still doing pretty well on my efforts to focus on nutritious food and also found some time to do some spiritually nurturing activities as well. On Thursday morning, I had to take my car into the mechanic for what turned out to be a blown hose. They said it would take all day, so I dropped it off early and then walked the 3+ miles home, getting back just in time to go out to brunch with a friend. It was a nice walk, and I had lots of time to think about things. I came up with some ideas for future writing material and took lots of photos for a couple of other projects I dreamed up. In the late afternoon, they called to say that one of the parts they ordered hadn’t arrived, but that I could walk up there to collect my car and just bring it back today. Which is what I did.
When I dropped it off again this afternoon, I decided to walk up to Old Railroad Square and hang out and eat some lunch. This area of town has a large number of homeless people hanging around during the day, waiting for the mission to serve lunch and then dinner. When I arrived at my destination, I realized that I’d left my wallet in my car. Rather than walk back to retrieve it and then walk downtown again, I just sat in the park and read my book and felt hungry. This was a decision I was able to make based on being physically tired and also knowing that I was certain that as soon as my car was finished I would be able to come home and eat plenty.
It’s interesting to walk around and see the other people who share the sidewalks. I overheard a couple of conversations that pretty much reinforced my belief that the system the homeless people operate within is actually quite challenging. One man was in a hurry to get back to the mission, hoping he wouldn’t miss lunch. He’d walked up to the County Center area to check on some paperwork, and then walked back. My guess is that he’d just hiked over 5 miles round trip, on an empty stomach. And here I was thinking I was pitiful for walking a little over a mile, and only a little hungry.
This is something I’ve been giving a good deal of thought over the last couple of years. We have laws and social codes to govern our behavior, but they really only cover the bare minimum effort in terms of paying your taxes and tithing to your church, building a LEED certified office complex, controlling how much combustion your car puts out, and so on. Yes, when we meet this agree-upon minimal standards, we celebrate it. “Woo hoo! My car passed its smog test!” “Look at us, we’re LEED-certified!” Really, we’re just saying, “I met the baseline standard for polluting the earth and destroying resources!” That’s not really something to be proud of, when you think about it.
But, there’s no benefit to going above and beyond this minimum level, so we don’t. Why is that? Is it because these minimum standards are actually quite strident and difficult to reach? Or, more likely, is it because when less is expected of us, that’s what we aim for?
Same with donating time, money, or food. We give what we can easily afford to give. We don’t give until we actually feel it. Very few people actually donate so much that they have to go without something important to them. Even with my (to me) generous donation to Food For Thought, I don’t really miss that money. I suppose that is something I should continue to think about, and see where it leads me.