These are things that I need to know in my heart and hold tight to right now, as I choose patience over self-righteousness, empathy instead of anger, love rather than hatred. Why am I doing these things? And I would I still do them even if there was no payout?
There are no easy answers, but I still think it's important to ask and then try to answer such questions. Because why I do what I do and why I say what I say matter. It's at that intersection of reasoning and action that I discover out who I really am. What I'm made of. What makes me tick. I find out whether I'm motivated by love, delusion or self interest, and that motivation tells me something about what matters to me in the scheme of things. What I will and won't put up with, and at what point I will abandon ship.
I believe that understanding will allow me to go one layer deeper than this: to base my decisions going forward on what I want to be motivated by (rather than to retroactively examine what I've learned has motivated me in both the distant and not-so-distant past), which will bring me one step closer toward becoming who I want to be. And in order to base my decisions on the things that I want to define me, I have to consider a host of things on the front-end, including an understanding that the worst possible outcome could happen. I have to presume that I might be tested and then make my decision based on that fact. I can't base my actions and motivations purely on best-case scenarios, can I?
Because sometimes there are no fireworks.
That may sound like a strange way of describing everyday outcomes and experiences, but I think it's illustrative. Life doesn't always come with built-in rewards, and there is never a guarantee that the best-case outcome will be achieved, even when we act honorably. Sometimes in exchange for working the hardest we've ever worked in our lives we will receive nothing but a tacit acknowledgement that we have moved mountains. Sometimes we will receive no appreciation whatsoever, and at still other times we will receive a sort of perfunctory recognition, wrapped up in one polite, somewhat meaningless word: "Thanks." But sometimes in return we will get something far worse -- the opposite of gratitude and humility in the face of our supreme efforts: scorn, bitterness, ridicule, self absorption and/or misuse. Sometimes in return for being patient and loving we will be taken advantage of, intentionally hurt or resented. Sometimes it's all of the above.
But in a flawed world, we have to understand that sometimes there are no fireworks at the end of a grueling endeavor. Maybe we should even expect that lack of display and base our decisions on who we want to be rather than on what we want to achieve. Because what if we can't achieve it? Does that mean we shouldn't even attempt it? I'm not sure about that yet. But I am sure that I want to be a person who chooses patience over self-righteousness, empathy instead of anger, love rather than hatred. That's who I want to be. And even if He Who Is In Personal Crisis turns out to be acting out of pure self-interest at present -- in which case I will be discarded when I am no longer of use to him, I would rather be a person who acted out of patience, empathy and love when faced with the prospect of no fanfare -- no fireworks -- or even resentment in return, rather than a person who acted out of self-righteousness, anger and hatred when I didn't know what was going to happen and it might have been good. Acting out of self preservation might save me some hurt, but I know that I don't want fear to define me. I want to be defined by all things peaceful, lovely and good.
Reasons to take stock and give thanks today:
#91 - A wonderful, comforting evening, including dinner with a friend, on Friday.
#92 - Being offered a ride home from an event on Saturday, which allowed me to avoid public transportation.
#93 - Spending a wonderful day on Sunday with He Who Is In Personal Crisis. He's back in town temporarily again, and what he's dealing with gets heavier and heavier. But we had a truly amazing day together, and he seems a little better than he has on prior visits. His evolved way of handling the family crisis he's dealing with has actually humbled me...consistently.
#94 - Public transportation, which gets kudos from me today. I was exhausted and irritable when I left the house, but public transportation worked flawlessly this AM, and I was able to relax a little.