Tuesday, April 12, 2011

my baby, the earth

It seems to me that we all take ourselves far too seriously.

Everyone goes around, trying only to give as much as they've gotten.  God forbid someone take too much from us, without making up for it later.  It's amazing that our heads don't explode from keeping track of who owes what to whom in every relationship we have.

I'm not really talking about money, either, though that can be part of it, but favors, affection, kind words, unsolicited help, and general regard are all parts of it.

I'm not discluding myself. If someone asks me for something, and my internal tabulator cannot make it fit into the economics of our relationship, I am irked. Similarly, if someone offers to help me with something, and I can't find a way in which they somehow owe it to me, I am uncomfortable and, usually, refuse. Unusual debts are more difficult to keep track of and to reconcile. And we all must always be reconciled.

We can't really figure out which is worse - to feel that someone has taken too much from us, or to feel that we have taken too much from someone else.  It's all arrogance. We think of ourselves as strong people, no one's doormat, people who draw the line where the line needs to be drawn.  We are also offended by the idea of owing something to someone else.  We are far too independent for that.

I want to let go.  I want all that I have to be fluid, to come and go as the world around me calls for it, like the ocean throwing waves on the shore and then taking them back.  I don't want to fight the ocean.  I don't want to keep track, either.  It gives me anxiety.

It seems that the only human relationship that seems to, on occasion, escape this system is the relationship between parents and children.  (Please let me make this romantic generalization.  Thanks.)  The best parents will give and give and give everything they have to give, including the most earnest and pain-staking decision-making as to what it is, exactly, that their precious little ones need.  Do they run dry?  Do they ever decide that they've been used up, or that they've somehow lost their worth?  Not usually.  Not in a fatal way, anyway.  They are fueled by love.

Why do we, then, fear so much?  If I lend someone money and they don't pay me back, am I somehow less of a person?  Have they taken any of my humanness away?  No. No. No.

Love. Confidence. Gratitude. Holding on to these things, maybe I can let go of everything else.

fellow synchrobloggers' posts:
Debt, n
What Do I Owe You?
debt we debtors
Debt of Lament


  1. wow. yes. yes. totally. I do this! any it brings me relief to know that I am not the only one. for some silly reason I thought I was.


    obv we're not alone.


  2. I think it's an American thing. Actually, I'm sure it is. In Ghana (you should know who I am now), when I gave money away and didn't expect payment back, It was received with gratitude and that was the end of it. When I started high school here, I couldn't even give away a quarter! A quarter!!! I'd say "you can have it". They'd insist "Oh no, I'll pay you back tomorrow". And they truly did! [WHY?!]

    This system makes it really difficult to give gifts. I couldn't do something nice for someone: they'd mess it all up! It ALWAYS turned into a really awkward encounter: reluctantly refusing but firmly sure they do not want your nice, thoughtful (even sacrificial) gift.

    Example: I played racquetball with a friend on campus. I purposefully drove to campus that afternoon so that I could give him a ride back to his car at the Friday Center. After playing I offered the ride. He said it was ok but his legs hurt a bit and he didn't want to walk all the way to my car. So I said "No worries, I'll go get my car and pick you up, just wait here". He says "Naaa... I'll just take the bus. It's more efficient that way". Well.. it's gonna take longer to get there on the bus.

    Why would one prefer an uncomfortable, packed, musty bus ride over a car ride and spending time with a friend? It baffled me. I confronted him the next day saying "Why do you make it so hard for me to bless you sometimes?" His defense was that he didn't want to inconvenience
    me. [Rubbish!] He knew me well to know this would never be an issue. I just didn't get it. It's moments like this that make me think deep relationships with friends are a think of the past. People here seldom open their hearts for someone to love on them.