I got kudos from a client the other day, announced over the radio system for everybody to hear. A customer needed an item in the aftermath of surgery, to help her heal correctly and be comfortable. I probably spent the better part of an hour with her, mere minutes in the grand scheme, finding the right item and helping her order it through the internet ordering system. When it was done, I shook her hand and told her I hoped her healing continued to go well. I meant that with all my heart and I know she knew that.
She went directly to the feedback system and also went to the trouble to call the manager, telling him I went above and beyond the call to help her. That’s what was announced. I appreciated it, but I felt unworthy of praise, and a bit sad, too. Here’s why.
First of all, I believe we ought to help one another when and if we can, if we are able, and if the opportunity presents itself. Nothing feels better than helping someone in need. That’s just how I roll. So it felt smarmy, just a bit, to be recognized for doing something which comes naturally to me and for which I derive so much joy. Secondly, it’s sad that as a society, we aren’t all so inclined. Imagine how great it would be if everybody just found joy in helping others. We’ve become so self absorbed as a society, so materialistic, and that’s not at ALL where our focus should be.
I remember how, as a young girl, one person in particular used to make fun of me for genuinely caring about people in pain, or people with personal issues causing them unrest. I was told I ‘wore my heart on my sleeve’, was called “Ann Landers” if you remember who she was. My friends used to call ME when they needed to talk, because I listened and more importantly because I really cared…and because I wasn’t afraid to give them loving feedback WHEN they asked for it. I felt like there was something wrong with me, or that I was less of a person because I had a ‘soft heart’, as they used to say. Not anymore.
Now, I realize I have a gift, of sorts. Sometimes it’s burdensome, because there are times when there are many bad things happening to people I care about, all at once. But I am always amazed how much it means to them just to know someone is LISTENING and someone cares. Sometimes something seemingly insigniicant I do, something that costs me nothing but time, makes them cry because they are so grateful. Then I cry too, of course. Because there are PEOPLE in those bodies, with hearts and minds, people who MATTER. People who deserve to know they are not alone in the trenches.
I went through terror, once in my life…so far…and had many days, months, years, to observe the behavior of those around me. Granted, I watched through a fog of shock and disbelief, through the worst depression and heartache I have ever experienced. I had a chance to watch me, too. I did a lot of introspection AND observation, and I came out of that…or am COMING out of it, with a whole new perspective on life and a whole new way of looking at the people in my life and how they behave.
First of all, I will NEVER let anybody I know go unaided when they are in pain, or are suffering in any way I can help. Period. Even if it means I have to do without something to help them, they get help. I will NEVER let anyone I care about feel alone or criticized when they are suffering. There’s plenty of time for critical analysis LATER, when they can handle it and IF they ask for it. I know how it feels to be kicked when I’m down; I will never do that. Here’s the thing: If I have to do without a new shirt in order to give someone in need one…that’s the job. Give them a new shirt; they need it more than I do. It’s that simple.
Second, if someone talks about “love”, I know what to look for to find out what that means to THEM. If their love has a hammer symbol instead of a helping hand symbol, that’s not love. If their love is holding out a basket into which you can deposit stuff, instead of a basket full of stuff to give out, well, that’s not my kind of love. Love involves some take, yes, but I think…and this is just me…love should involve more give. From everybody involved, otherwise it’s parasitic and selfish…which most love is today, I think.
So I took the time to actually CONNECT with this client, to find out what she needed. Then, lo and behold, I was able to give that…with care thrown in because that’s what I do. And it was great. She got the items she needed, but I got joy. I think she might have gotten some too. And that, my friends, is love. And it’s enough, all by itself, even without recognition. In fact, I like it better when nobody knows.