Year’s End, Your Beginning
Christmas is done and with it that all pervasive spirit of “not being an asshole” that follows most December holidays around with loving alacrity. But I’m here to tell you folks that it doesn’t have to be that way. Not at all, not ever. Together you and I and others from sea to shining sea raised almost $3,358 to buy gifts for Toys for Tots. Then a few late donations came in and got us to just under 3,400! You’ve seen the pictures and must know the impact you had in hundreds of lives in the weeks leading up to the 25th. Dinosaurs, dolls, puzzles, princesses and pilots, cars and crafts, bots and kid friendly versions of the goddamn Batman. Things to roll, things to ride, things to stack, things to pass, kick and throw. Things to hug and all these things to bring comfort…Angie and I’ve smiled a lot lately when thinking of all the adventures we’ve had a hand in encouraging thanks to the mighty charity of so many supporters. Feels good to have put the call out, feels good that the call was heard, embraced and explored more fully than I would have ever cynically expected. The secret to that success is really no secret but it’s one that in my age and fear I had simply forgotten.
When you are generous, with your words, your ears, your blood, sweat and tears, when you are unabashedly giving of that which you might usually cling desperately on to, you will discover a peace within and in the world around that is without comparison. Because everyone was picking up so much of my old shit I had to dig deep to find more shit to get rid of lest a bunch of deserving kids end up shit creek without a paddle not covered in shit! I pulled out more and more boxes (from places around my house I’d forgotten about) followed by some big gun items turning my attentions (most hesitantly) towards a few pieces that held immense value both on a monetary scale and once gauged solely in sentiment before I dragged my emotionally bloodied body towards what was truly one of my most prized and desired possessions: my San Diego Comic Con Exclusive Transformers 25th Anniversary Soundwave. He even came with Laserbeak, Buzzaw, Ravage and Ratbat.
Fuck was right. And I was that fuck. If I played with just the toys I still have displayed in my house at the moment, one new toy every day, it would take me months before I’d hold a repeat in my hands. Take in to account everything that isn’t displayed and we’re talking years. That I would even hesitate to part with a piece that could do so much good by going (and not a damn thing by staying) was the ultimate reminder of the greed that lurks alongside the benevolence in my heart. I wrestled long on this subject. Kept the damn box near me for days as I did so. Thankfully, the more altruistic angels of my nature won the day. And the rest is history. But you don’t know all the history just yet, so here’s where it gets really historic and more than just a little humbling.
You already saw my “Captain America/hero” post (and if you didn’t, c’mon man, keep up…this is important! I mean at least moreso than “What ‘Force Awakens’ character am I?” quizzes and the like) so you know how I feel about being pedestaled in that way. In part, it was the strength of Angie’s belief that lead me to give up (Soundwave) and go beyond (my miserly mentality), ensuring a confirmation that my recent toy drive was meant to be extraordinary.
And driven I was. This year, the last few months in particular, have been a brutal slap upside the head that life is brief. Full of sound and fury and, if Facebook is any indication, signifying nothing. But not this time. This time life, my life, would be more than just pissing off and pontificating. I took one pic, me in Cap’s shield with Soundwave ready to go, and wrote out my heart. And I saw my heart return to me. I posted my offer late at night, challenging anyone who read it to step-up (out of true desire) and step-out (of their comfort zone) to change not only the lives of countless children but to challenge themselves into some fantastic personal growth as well. I went to sleep. By the time I woke up one single donor had given $500. At my insistence, one particular robot became his as he’d secured so many others a Christmas they could never have dreamed of. Five hundred bucks from one guy of humble means who you may never personally know and didn’t expect anything in return. Just a few hours after “giving up” something I’d held so dear the generosity of another had made it possible for the hopeless to know hope. That day was grand. Another young lady and her husband, who had forgone giving each other presents for the holidays in lieu of finding something worthy to pour into instead, threw another several hundred dollars our way. Person after person after person gave and gave and gave.
One small generous thought had cascaded into a defining moment. And then the next morning came…
We we’re on our way to spend the day playing cowboy in Frontierland and were meeting and old friend to deliver the items he’d picked up in our purge. After I’d given him his gifts, he said he had something for me. Something from his own collection he knew I was a fan of and thought I might enjoy. He handed me a package, wrapped with holiday cheer. I knew immediately what it was but wouldn’t allow myself to assume. He implored, I opened. And held in my hands something that cemented for me, forever, that giving fully and from the heart is never without reward:
For anyone who doesn’t know, that is one of the exact figures I had just given away a little over 24 hours before. I let mine go, no heart strings attached, and was immediately blessed to find it back in my hands. Whatever you believe in, God, the Universe, Buddha riding the flying spaghetti monster around Loch Ness, you’ll have to admit, that’s fairly fucking coincidental. I don’t often adhere to coincidence. No. What I was moved to do had blossomed into so much good for so many people and someone sent me a reminder that this, this right here, was the way to go through life. When we give, freely and without expectation, when we give of our money, our time and our talents…can’t you see?
It is always worth it.
I don’t say this because I got Soundwave back. That was just a glorious goddamn bonus. No, I say this because when our hearts grow stingy, whether by design or ambivalence, those opportunities for the miraculous to occur vacate the paths we tread. We walk through an average life, filled with average moments all the while longing for the extraordinary. We hold back, clinging to fear of the unknown and grasp at so much for ourselves we never notice everyone else living in this world along side us. We do ourselves and all those others a great disservice. In diminishing ourselves, we diminish the world. This year has reminded me, in a terribly beautiful way, to stop holding back and if you’ve read all my words thus far I would encourage and challenge you to do the same.
The holidays are over but kindness knows not the date or time of year. Having a generous spirit on Christmas day is expected. Having a generous spirit everyday is exemplary. I’m here to tell you, it will change lives for the better. Yours and countless others.
Here’s to this day then. Not because it is particularly special, but because the magic in your heart can make any do so.