I am indebted to Sondra Costello and to the senior people of
who inspired this conversation.
I've got everything I need. When they talk about the man who has
everything, that's me.
Let me be clear about what I'm saying.
Secondarily "I've got everything I need" is what I stand for.
It's a stand I take. I live Life out of "This is
I'm whole and complete.". I play the game out of "It's turned out, and
this is what it looks like when it's turned out.". Werner
Erhard calls this "playing from win". When you play from win
there's no aspiring to be satisfied - you come from being
satisfied. When you play from win there's no aspiring to be whole and
complete - you come from being whole and complete. When
you play from win there's no aspiring to get what you need - you
come from having everything you need.
But that, as I said, is just secondarily.
Primarily it's all of the above ... plus the additional
where the rubber meets the
in the real world. I have nutritious food and clean, fresh water. I
a quiet, functional place to
- I'm cozy and warm and dry at night. I have a college
degree. I have medical insurance - which I don't really need because I
keep fit and healthy, but I have it anyway. I have an adequate wardrobe
which is pragmatic if it isn't haute couture. I have family,
friends, relationships, and inspiring conversations. I have generous
touching and physical affection whenever I want it. And I have the love
in my pretty blue eyes.
Now, you could argue I've prioritized it ass backwards. Arguably
primarily it's the stand I am, and
secondarily it's how my life plays out in the real world.
Arguably it's my stand which gives the quality and
circumstances of my life in the real world, and not vice versa. Yes,
you could argue this. And you may even be right. That's a subject for
another conversation on another occasion. It's not the focus here.
Here's what is: whenever Christmas time comes around, I've already
got all the creature comforts I need. And so rather than
focus on where to enjoy another Christmas dinner and more presents (and
believe me I love Christmas dinner and presents), my
thoughts naturally turn to those who'll have neither. And this is
besides the fact I consider it somewhat
stingy to celebrate the spirit of Christmas on only
one day a year. "The spirit of Christmas on only one
day a year?". If ever there's a definition of unclear on the
concept, that's it.
So I volunteer to assist. At a local senior center. One hundred and ten
senior members of my community are either too sick or too frail or too
invalid to participate in a Christmas dinner. I know I want to serve
Don't get me wrong. I'm not completely altruistic. Part of wanting to
serve is wanting to give something back. Yes, that's for sure.
But the real reason I want to serve is this: serving is the
gift. When I serve, I get back - in spades.
I arrive early. I'm soaked by the
heavy winter rain
by walking from my car to the door of the building. I don't plan on
managing. But I'll do anything I'm asked to do. Anything. The
supervisor I report to is (I can tell) an
woman. I can see I'm going to enjoy working with her. At her behest my
first task is to fetch a dolly and trundle cases of the
Christmas staple, Martinelli's Sparking Apple Cider, from the
storage locker to the refrigerator, unpack them, and line the bottles
up on the shelves to chill.
Then it's time to get started preparing the one hundred and ten
meals on wheels which will be delivered by volunteer
drivers. I don plastic gloves and a hairnet. They say it's
health department regulations to wear gloves and a hairnet
when preparing food. I don't recall ever wearing a hairnet before.
in a mirror, I look like what my Granny Lena looked like
when she wore a hairnet. I haven't thought of Granny Lena in a while.
How great is it she turns up at a time like this!
I'm filling one hundred and ten small plastic cups with cranberry
sauce. First I count out one hundred and ten of them. Then I count out
one hundred and ten plastic lids. Next, from a big stainless steel tub
of cranberry sauce, I spoon cranberry sauce into each cup about three
quarters full, close the lids, then line up the filled, closed cups in
rows on trays. I manage to get each one of them just so. If
there's any cranberry sauce dripped on the outside of a cup, I
carefully clean it off before lining it up on the tray. Part of me asks
"What does it matter if you clean off drops of cranberry sauce from
cups which are filled with cranberry sauce anyway?". It's not that. The
question is irrelevant. It just
to clean off any cranberry sauce dripped on the outside of the cups. So I do it.
Now there's one hundred and ten closed cups each three quarters filled
with cranberry sauce, with no cranberry sauce dripped on the outside of
any cup. Complete work.
The next preparation task is the boxes which will be delivered to the
senior members of my community who, for various reasons, can't prepare
or attend a Christmas dinner. An army of volunteers sets up tables then
lines up empty delivery boxes on tables so it'll be easy to fill each
box by walking up and down the aisles between the tables. Each box is
set with a cup of cranberry sauce. Then I open big bags of rolls
donated by a local bakery and add a roll to each box, then an orange -
donated by a local supermarket. We've got a plan. The supervisor has
laid out a sample delivery box with an empty cranberry sauce cup, a
roll, and an orange in the top right corner. Now we've got the
visual. There's room left for two biodegradable containers: one
which will contain a slice of pumpkin pie, and another larger one for
the turkey and all the trimmings.
The slicing of the pies goes very well. I join two other volunteers in
an assembly line cutting pies, putting a slice of pie into each
biodegradable container, then putting the biodegradable containers into
the larger delivery boxes. What's interesting is at this point, no one
is telling anyone else what to do any more. Things are
just getting done. There's a job to do, or rather
jobs to do - and they're getting done. No one's directing.
No one's supervising. This is amazing, I pause to
It's actually quite an intricately co-ordinated series of tasks. And
yet there's no one in charge and everything's
Six of us line up next to a counter in another assembly line to pack
the larger biodegradable containers with turkey and all the trimmings.
At the start of the line a volunteer puts a scoop of mashed potatoes
into a biodegradable container, then passes it to her right. The next
volunteer takes it and adds a serving of stuffing. Then to bean salad.
Next to yams. Then the man to my left adds his own personal selection
of light and dark turkey meat. When it reaches me, my job is to ladle
on gravy so it covers the turkey and the mashed potatoes. This is so
cool! I do it with as much import as any other job I'm
born to do. The man on my left is German, so I ask him "How do you
say 'gravy' auf Deutsch?" (ie "in German"). He tells me
"Soße" - pronounced saucer. I say to him proudly "Ach
ja! Natürlich! Ich bin der Soßemeister!" - which I am: no
one has ever done a better, more masterful job ladling
gravy over turkey and mashed potatoes than I'm doing now. I'm not just
going through the motions. I'm giving this gravy ladling
everything I got.
Once the completed meals in the biodegradable containers leave my
hands, they're added to the delivery boxes which are lined up for the
volunteer drivers to distribute them into the community and to our
seniors who'll have Christmas dinner at home after all.
When I leave I discard my gloves and hairnet. But I do take with me,
offered by the supervisor, a bottle of the Martinelli's Sparkling Apple
Cider - now perfectly chilled. It's still
and once again I'm wet before I get to my car. But I'm full. I'm full
of giving. I'm wet and cold yet I'm cozy and warm.
One of these conditions is courtesy the real world. The other is
a function of the stand I am.