Friday, August 29, 2014

On Hobos, Hipsters, and Being Charitable to Yourself

True story… Yesterday, we decided to pack up dinner and head to a park to eat and play. The park we intended to visit was cordoned off when we arrived for construction, so we switched plans and instead went to a different local park. This other park was not nearly as nice, or as large, but still had some fun features and the kids were excited to play (and hungry). So my husband and I sat down and chatted while watching them, and also made mental notes of the other park-goers. Lots of drinking, obscene music, odd characters milling about. It was not the most family-friendly park, as it turns out.

A totally different park than the one in this story.

At this point, my husband stood up and counted heads. “Just keeping an eye on the hobos leering at our kids. Or maybe they’re hipsters. I have trouble telling them apart.” I laughed, and we decided that we would now use hobo and hipster interchangeably as the situation dictates. We collected the kids and parceled out dinner. Kid #2 promptly dropped her heavily beketchuped hot dog in the dirt and wood chips. My husband had brought 2 for himself, so he gave her one of his. About 30 seconds later, a disheveled 40-something hipster stumbled over and asked, “Got any food I could have?” My husband, with no hesitation, said, “Sure. Here’s half my hot dog.” “Thanks.” The guy plopped down next to kid #3 (obliviously eating his own 2 hot dogs) and ate. He then got up clumsily and mused aloud, “I may have had too much to drink,” and proceeded to weave his way over to a grassy area where he either tripped or passed out. Regardless, the end result was him laying in the grass for a short time, not moving. I was worried we should call someone (the police?) to check on him, but he started moving and was not being ill, so we left it at that. There were enough people around that we figured someone would seek help if needed. We finished eating, then continued on to our regularly scheduled evening plan. It was a very odd experience in our sheltered life.

I was thinking about it later and marveling at my husband’s generosity to this stranger, after his generosity to our own kid. I don’t know what I would have done if he hadn’t been there, but he reacted so quickly and altruistically ended up with a fraction of his planned dinner… he officially qualifies as a hero. My hero. I was struck by the fact that this guy needed food… he didn’t ask for money… but nourishment, a basic human need. Didn’t matter that this guy was likely suffering the consequences of his own decisions… he still needed food.

Where is this story going??

It was then that I realized just how uncharitable I was being to myself lately. I had been feeling truly down in the dumps about my seeming lack of progress on arbitrary home improvement goals I had set for myself, irritated that I haven’t blogged more this summer, disappointed by my continuing slow back rehabilitation, annoyed by my lack of fitness, and frustrated that I didn’t have the energy to adequately entertain my end-of-summer-crazy kids to stave off normal sibling bickering. Problems of my own creation. I was treating myself like an utter failure, unworthy of affection and respect, because I wasn’t meeting my own expectations. I was beating myself up over what? Minutiae in the grand scheme of living. Self-respect is a basic human need too, and I was withholding that on the grounds that I didn’t deserve it.

I am NOT a failure of a human being. Going forward, I will be more generous to my internal hobo, just asking for food to get through today’s ordeals. It doesn’t matter what tomorrow looks like, I still need to love myself today, even if I feel like a disheveled, out-of-control mess. And so do you. We deserve it.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

I Corinthians 13:4-8