Nothing like going out into the back yard...well, up on the hill, to split wood by hand to get one into deep thought. Though I should add, none of these deep thoughts included remembering that our tree guy had told us we could borrow his splitter anytime we wanted, or at least that memory didn't arrive until soon after I'd split about 50 hunks of wood in sizes varying from 1-2 feet across, over a period of 3-4 Saturdays and Sundays.
Anyway, back to my deep thoughts:
OK, and to digress to less-than-important digressions again, as we McVics do to distraction, these thoughts mostly came when I took a break and stretched out on a chair atop the spot where Mom and Dad's ashes reside, which kind of makes it extra cool.
Not sure how I got to this line of thought, but I was thinking about our purpose here in life and I reached the following conclusion, less about our purpose than the things that promote and distract us from that purpose:
I have heard or read of people who say that they were "put here on Earth to...(insert talent or passion here: play basketball...make art...teach...be an actor)" but I sort of feel sorry for such folks, because first I think that's taking it easy, basically saying they don't have any other responsibilities to their fellow human, and second, because they aren't looking deep enough.
But if one concludes, as I have, that our general purpose is not just to simply leave the world in a better state than which we found it but to spread good cheer and positive thoughts among as many people with whom we make contact through the course of our lives as possible, it is important too that we recognize both how some of what might be considered distractions to that goal are both more important AND unimportant than it might otherwise appear.
More specifically, I'm referring to our outward appearance...our bodies, our shells, our containers. We all have this soul, this vibe/mojo/essence/aura, all kinds of things that make us who we are, deep down. And how we look, how beautiful or fat or pimply or athletically gifted or disfigured we are is, we are told, completely unimportant to who we really are. And in the purest sense, and in occasional practice, that is certainly true.
But at the same time, since we were first endowed with the curse not just of self-awareness, but with a sense of beauty and an appreciation of athletic accomplishment, the way we look and act and perform, becomes an important tool in how our message is perceived and the size of the audience and the willingness of the audience to absorb our message.
It has, in the past year or so, struck me how much we all want to be valued. We crave recognition to varying degrees. We revel in being recognized for our contributions, whether they be for a financial donation, or for our hard work or for just "being there" for someone. We want to be thanked for passing the salt, for gosh sakes.Why do we need to be thanked for a gift we've given someone, when presumably we've done it because we want to do something nice for someone else, or, here it is again, to recognize someone for something nice they've done.
Do we need to be thanked for the gift we've given for thanking someone for the gift they've given? Or when we give a birthday gift, which we give to thank them for what exactly - for being a part of our lives? Or for recognition for their simply having been born, validating their existence? And we expect to be thanked for that? Why do we want and expect gifts for having been born? Is it because we can't wait to also be the center of attention, and thus validated, when our birthday comes around? (Side Note: Don't we really have it backwards? Shouldn't that be the day we give gifts to our parents for giving us life and for all they did for us? And to our friends too - in appreciation for all the love they've given us?)
So, as I say, we crave recognition and thus, validation. Even our most altruistic of acts are possibly more for our pleasure than for the recipients. Even if I do something nice for someone else without their knowing it, as I once did - baking a birthday cake for someone, leaving it on her doorstep anonymously, since I knew she had no one in her life, brought me great pleasure. And of course, I secretly hoped she'd eventually find out many months later that it was from me (and she did, from my parents), and I hoped she'd be effusive in her thanks (and she was). (Twas Brenda Peabody, God rest her awesome soul, who lived up the hill from my folks.)
It may seem that I've again gone off on a digression, but the point of the need for validation is germane. I believe that the reason we crave this attention in varying degrees is because we all think our gift, our wisdom, our accumulated knowledge we are passing on to everyone else is what validates our very reason for being here on earth, for having been born in the first place.
So back to the importance of our "containers", our bodies and how we dress, how we fix our face, how we work to get rid of our unsightly bulges, whether they be around the waist, or our, gasp, Visible Pantie Lines! (That should get me some extra google hits!) Because more people are likely to accept, or better, to embrace our thoughts and essence when we are more attractive to them. And it takes an often way-too-difficult leap for us to realize that when our soul is no longer in our containers, which are now buried in an another unimportant, but in this case way-too-expensive...container, or our ashes scattered wherever, that people talk or think about us, not about what a great dresser we were or how pretty we were or what great shape we were in, but it is the gifts we share with them, whether it was the way we could make them laugh, or the life-altering advice we gave, or the chocolate birthday cake we surprised them with, that is primarily remembered.
And thus, we are thanked and recognized and honored just by their memory of what kind of person we were and the contributions we made to their life. Unless we left 'em a bunch of dough, then we're probably remembered for that too...which kind of negates every damn thing I just wrote.