Not Giving Up
Earlier this week, my husband and I stopped for ice cream, which was practically mandatory as it was ‘buy one, get one half price’ day at Carvel.
We don’t usually take full advantage of BOGO day, which I think annoys my husband because the offer is for sundaes, but I would rather just have a nice cup of vanilla, thank you. So my little cup at half price is not as much of a bargain. I have tried to convince Hubby that we save even more money this way, since the sundaes are more expensive to begin with. But savings 50% off something expensive does seem to have more appeal. I lessen the sting of buying something cheaper by getting one size larger than I normally would. That way Theo can have a bit too.
But this little anecdote really doesn’t have anything to do with the bigger anecdote.
Which is this one:
We sat down at a long picnic table where a man and woman already occupied the far end. They were old, very old. Perhaps almost our age. Perhaps a bit younger.
The man wanted something, and it appeared from the conversation that he wanted it quite badly. I didn’t hear what it was that he wanted, as I was a little late in my eavesdropping.
But the woman asked him,
“What would you give up for it?”
This, I think, is a very good question.
They got up and left and I never heard the answer.
But I started thinking about that question and my answer.
What do I want and what would I give up for it?
Well, naturally I want world peace and a cure for cancer and justice for the poor and abandoned. I guess I would give up quite a lot if I could have all three. Some people even give up their lives. That is astounding to me.
The closest I have come is when my nephew was diagnosed with cancer. He wasn’t even two. He was so desperately ill, and I wondered – especially in the middle of the night – if there is a God and whether he could or would help this little baby. I wondered if someone told me I could change places with this small child – if I could take on his cancer so he could be healthy – would I? I thought about that a lot. I decided I would. I would rather have cancer myself than to see it in that sweet kid.
Once I knew that about myself, I felt a great sense of comfort. And my nephew survived and is a teenager now. He’s well – in every way that one measures wellness.
I’m still not sure I believe in God, but if She exists, I think She mostly helps doctors and nurses to do their jobs well.
And what about me personally? What do I want?
I would like my novels to be recognized and successful, for one thing.
But you know, as far as what would I give up? I don’t think I have to give up much. Because I like them, and I am proud I wrote them. So they are already successful to me.
But oh, if everyone else loved them! That would be pretty sweet. But extra really. I’m good right where I stand.
And wealth! I want to be a billionaire.
What would I give up to have an endless supply of money?
Well, I wouldn’t want to work at a job I hated. I wouldn’t want to be unethical in my dealings or have to lie constantly. I wouldn’t want to move away from my friends and family. I wouldn’t want to be hated. I wouldn’t want to give up a single year of my life for more cash.
So what would I give up to be rich?
Not nice weather. Not my favorite songs. Certainly not my pets.
Maybe coffee. But maybe not.
And of course I would like happiness now and through the end of my life. Well, I think I am okay there too. No one can predict the future of course, but I see a happy future.
What would I give up to ensure future happiness?
How about worry and envy and resentment?
You would think that those are easy to give up. Not so, I see. No one wants to worry. No one wants to be angry. And yet, like most people, I am. Often.
I hang onto my hurts and grudges like they are the flags that define me. I nurse them in my heart.
I need to take much better care of my joy.
While I sweep away my resentments with the toaster crumbs, I need to take out my joys and look at them over breakfast every morning. And admire how everlasting they are. How strong.
I wouldn’t give them up.
Not the books I have written. Not the books I have read.
Not the walks I have taken. The sunrises and sunsets I have seen.
Not the flowers I have planted and seen bloom around me.
Not my pets. Not Theo the dog. And not the cats – not Thor nor Niko nor Athena – not even cranky old Lillian. Not Moonlight the horse.
Not my friends. Not my old friends from childhood. Not the new friends I have made.
Not my family – and not their health. Not my husband. Not my mother. Not my sisters nor my brother. Not their families, including my in-laws, my nieces and nephews, and the children of my nieces and nephews.
And if I should lose some of those I love – and I will, of course, eventually – they are still everlasting.
Everlasting in my joy.
I’m not giving that up.
You can keep the money.