May 5

From what we get, we can
make a living; what we give,
however, makes a life.

Arthur Ashe


Today's Meditation:

All this getting and giving can make us crazy, can make us lose our perspective and lose any sense of clarity concerning what we really should be doing with our lives.  We all know people who seem to be consumed with collecting toys--furniture and appliances and wide-screen TVs and cars and technology--and when they die, all they leave behind is a whole bunch of stuff that other people have to deal with.  I couldn't care less what kind of stuff I leave behind.  It won't do me or them any good for them to know that I owned something or some things.

What I do care about is how people will remember that I contributed somehow, in some small but positive way, to their lives.  I truly hope that people will remember that I encouraged rather than discouraged, that I gave more than I took, that I pointed out possibility and potential rather than focusing on limitations.  The money I earn helps me to make a living; the contributions I make to the lives of others helps to make my life something beyond itself, something larger and more complete than it would be without the giving.

I think there's a disconnect between what we grow up thinking to be important and what we know in our hearts to be important.  When we start thinking about how other people see us, we start to focus much more on what we get, what we earn, what we accumulate.  We like to impress other people.

The important question is, though, do we impress others more because we have enough income to buy certain things, or because we practice enough selflessness that we can make other people's time on this planet less difficult and more rewarding?  And which of these truly is a part of making a life as opposed to making a living?

Questions to consider:

Whence comes our tendency to focus so much on what we get in life?

What makes you feel better--helping someone else in a significant way, or getting the newest toy?

What's the difference between making a living and making a life? 

For further thought:

The hoarders, who are anxiously worried about losing
something, are, psychologically speaking, the poor
impoverished people, regardless of how much they have.
Whoever is capable of giving of themselves is rich.

Erich Fromm


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