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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

it's what we do, and I'm glad you're here

Last Wednesday was a pretty big day for me.  It was a buy a new suit (a black skirt suit, of course), black pumps and wear the pearl necklace that my Dad gave me for my eighteenth birthday sort of big day.

I was nervous.  Not the bad sort of nervous, like the kind of nervous you get when you're going to the dentist or checking your work e-mail after a week-long vacation.  I was the sort of nervous that makes you giddy and smiley.  It makes me talk with my hands a lot.  And act kind of like a cheerleader.

Ready?  Okay!

I told my friend, who works with me at a local inn, that I was nervous about my big day.  I had a bunch of jerking, panic-filled questions for him.  They flew out of my mouth quickly like the way thread moves on a cloth through a sewing machine.

"What if I don't give off a good impression?  What if they hate me?  What if I can't engage in any sort of conversation that's interesting or intelligible?"

The worst self-defeating question being, "What if I can't 'sell' myself?"

My friend looked down at me (not because he's better or smarter, but because he is quite tall) and said plainly:

"This is what we do."

He said a bunch of other things about how we're both communicators.  And how the hospitality industry and communication industry are both nearly the same.  He reminded me that I've studied writing for six years, and if I've mastered the craft of selling $200.00 bottles of wine in a restaurant, I could surely muster the strength to say good things about my qualifications as a communicator.

It was the most simple advice.  Because this is what we do.

I realized this morning, however, that this may be what I do but I certainly haven't done it here.  On this forum.  If I were treating this blog like it were my job as a hospitality employee, I would make sure you felt welcome.  I'd usher you in, like you're a part of something when you read these words.  I'm supposed to create something lovely so that you'll want to return.

I haven't done that, yet.

So, thank you for being here.  And welcome!  Welcome back.  I'm glad you're taking time out of your day to read these words.

And I hope you'll return.

Until then, happy Tuesday!


Sunday, December 9, 2012

falling trees make noise and good unseen is good

Well, hey there!

Opening this page this morning and digging into these old posts, brushing off the dust of school deadlines and heartbreaks was kind of like unearthing a time capsule in a way.  It was like stepping into a storybook that's all your own, and having the omniscience you didn't have before.

Because you know how the story ends.  And it ends with goodness.

Have any of you all ever done good while no one is watching?  Probably.  You're all good people.  Good people do good things.  And if we apply the transitive property to all of your lives, good people are defined by their actions.

But what if suddenly, all of you, being the good people that you are, stopped doing good.  Good for you, or good for others.  Stopped for no reason other than the fact you thought no one was watching.

Why does it matter, anyway?  If no one sees it, if no one reads it, it didn't really happen, right?

It's kind of like that mind-bender riddle that asks, "If a tree falls in the forrest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?"

The answer is, of course it does.  It makes ripples in the atmosphere.  Its booms sends shockwaves and wild rumblings through the ground.

I have a friend in Virginia Beach who gave one of his kidneys to his father.  He didn't broadcast it on his Facebook, or instagram (thankfully) pictures, or build a house on the sand of social media "likes" and comments from others.

He just did good.

And I'm convinced he's the type of man who would have given up any part of himself for someone he loved.  I'm further convinced that if the doctors told him that both his father, and no one else in the world would ever know of his sacrifice, he would have done the good anyway.

But what if he hadn't?  What if the moment he was informed that he'd be the only one aware that he had one less kidney, he decided he'd just go ahead and keep them both?

What if every good person stopped doing good because no one ever saw, the world would not rumble and quake.  It would not turn or be unhinged from patterns of ugliness broken by goodness.  It would stand still and intimidating.  Like a tree in the forrest.

I'm not just talking about giving away parts of your body for the betterment of your relatives.  I'm talking about all kinds of good here.  I'm talking about big goods and little goods.  Feeding the homeless, sure. But staying up late to chit-chat with a girlfriend who's discouraged, too.  Going to church.  Having patience with an employee who doesn't learn as quickly as everyone else.

The truth is, the good (the big and little) you do while no one is watching is the most important kind of good.  It is a multitude of trees falling in a forrest.  Toppling over one another, as careless and trite as a house of cards or a winding line of dominoes.  And if no one ever watches, so much the better.  Because the impression I have about the life we live is that in the end, the things no one sees - the good and the bad - are the things we will be judged for.

So.  Audience or not, blogging is good.  I am not saying that it is any way synonymous with giving up a kidney, or giving care to homeless people.  It's not especially intelligent drivel.  It's not even that creative.  But it is still good.  And it is good that I will do, with hopes that one day the world will quake with words I've written.

Whether they are read or not.

Happy Sunday!

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