"This post was intended to go on my own blog, but as I was writing it I realized that somehow, at some deeper level, I was dedicating it to Jason Schippers. I carefully asked Erika if she would like to read it. Afterwards, she said that she would post it, so here we are.
Why I Didn’t Write Last Night – And Why I Want a Christmas Present From YouLast night I had just finished a productive day of work, and I figured I’d go to a bar to write a guest post that’s been laying around for a while. You know, have a beer and see some life around me. Being a writer is nice and for an ex-monk living the hermit lifestyle is fine, but sometimes you just want some fresh air and some people in earshot.
I toted my laptop down the street, installed myself, ordered a beer. Started writing. Stopped.
There was a man right next to me who wanted to know why I was sitting in a plain old cafe with my shiny Mac.
“You’re a writer? Write about me!”I eyed him carefully. A fifty-ish, slightly nervous but friendly guy, dressed rather less than casually. He looked like a simple but shrewd feller.
“Ok” I said. “Tell me a story, and I’ll write it down. Tell me something from your past that really touched you. Good or bad, but something that had an impact.”
He said we’d have to go to his friend’s bar and he’d tell me. I didn’t really want to because I was in the mood for a good writing session of my own, but he said: “Do me the favor.”
His friend’s bar was, in a word, grotty. Tiles on the wall, a stainless steel counter. A clientele consisting of older men in various states of alcoholic soporification, life fatigue, or by the looks of it: both.
The girl behind the counter was a pretty Colombian number with as keen an eye as you’ll ever see, and a black eye that was just short of being healed.
Broken people. Lost hope, strength, dreams. A lost leg. Resignation.
You know. People. It just happened to be a condensed mix of people who hadn’t made it in life. People who had nowhere near the chance all of us do to make something of it yet.
I CrashedHere I was, a happy and fairly successful foreigner, in a small working man’s town in Southern Spain. In tune and in touch with the hip and the rich, carving out his little niche. Huzzah.
Surrounded by people who had totally lost their way.
The thing that hurt me most was seeing a girl who, by the looks of it, should have been a stellar student somewhere. Stuck in a grimy cafe, drafting beers for clients who only wanted to chat her up crudely. And probably feel her up in the same manner. With almost enough make-up to cover her fading black eye. Young, and still unbroken enough to make it forward, but probably in for another few years of beating from her souteneur. That’s a fancy word for a not so fancy job: pimp.
It really sucked. While I am getting into the swing of this new career and being awed daily by the amazing people I meet, somewhere around the corner something bad happens. Someone falls and can’t get up, either in the bathroom or in life.
Nothing new eh? Big deal. Life suck and shit happens, correct? Maybe I just happened to walk into a mental asylum and asked: ‘Is the entire world mad?’
Whatever, maybe. Your call.
So Why the Deuce Did I Stay There?Because I realized that right then and there, I was able to give these people something that cost me nothing at all. In fact, I was getting free beer for it. But I could give them something that they probably haven’t received in more time than they’d care to remember.
In this case, talking to my new friend Julian, it was undivided attention. An hour or so of someone really listening to him. Paying attention to what he says, how he feels, who he is. Because, you know, he’s one of the lost ones. On the street, most people wouldn’t spend too much time talking to him.
With the girl, it was a good looking mysterious foreigner, who chatted with her a bit about Colombia and living in Spain. For a change, a man who did not want something from her. Just a chat, a few smiles and nothing more.
I walked out burning and itching to write this.
This Christmas, I Want You to GiveAnd I’d like you to start right the fuck now, please. With a cherry on top (and a battle axe in my hand).
Yeah I’m in the seasonal mood. You bet. Even though I’m the guy who vomits first when the Christmas madness starts in October in the shops.
I want you and everybody else, to give. I don’t care what it is. Anything goes. It’s about you giving something, something small and free. Just because you can.
You’ll find that with all the following examples, the person you give it to, he or she will not have been expecting it at all. They may not even be used to it anymore. And they may even not want it, in which case you shouldn’t push through. It’s not a gift if it’s forced upon someone.
Do it. Give. You’ll do a favor to them and to yourself with each of these little gifts, and every other you can think of.
- A hug
- A smile
- A cup of coffee to the guy next in line
- A book you cherish
- Some time that you’d rather spend on something else
- Biting your tongue for a change
- Speaking your mind for a change
- Not being so bloody stubborn for a change
- Standing your ground for a change
- If you want to give some money to someone or some cause, give it
- Lots of forgiveness
- Love, of course (What, are you dumb? Of course love)
And don’t stop after Christmas. Just do it, again and again. It’ll even become second nature. And it will show you something sooner or later, and I would love for you to send me an email when that happens.
Do it. Give. Thank you.
Yeah, what did you expect? You think I’m going to wait a week to fully ride that Christmas wave like a good sleazy marketer should? I’m not a whore.
Well, maybe a little. Merry Christmas.
Oh, and please share, spread, retweet, Stumble, Facebook, Digg, Reddit and whatever the hell you want to do. Print it out and paste it on a message board. Make a Christmas card out of it. Mail it to your friends. Let’s get this message SEEN, people.
This is published under full free rights. You can do with this message whatever you want as long as you keep the core message intact. Copy, alter, edit, put your name under it, I don’t care. Whatever it takes to get this message out to as many people as possible.
Let’s tell the world that we have all, every one of us, something valuable to give. Let’s start giving. Now."