Saturday, February 7, 2015

extravagantly

Each year, on new year's day, I pick a word for the year,
and throughout the year I try to unpack what this word means.
--Dianne Traflet, Seton Hall University

So many of us young'uns, myself included, dream of when we are rich.
We dream of the days that we have millions of dollars in our bank account, and we think of all the noble charities we can give to, and we think of all the people we can help.
We dispose of our imaginary wealth with a happy benevolence.
I just want to be rich, we say, so that I can do this for so-and-so.
I just want to have money, so that I can give it away easily.

My friend said something along those lines as we walked through the snowing streets. Her words hit me, as I bore my box of doughnuts through the snow. What I realized, while carrying doughnuts through the slushy East Harlem sidewalks, was that if I do not practice this generosity now, then I will never be able to achieve it.
How I treat my small wealth now is how I will treat my large wealth later.
We love--I especially love--to indulge in the pipe dream that changed circumstances will change how we behave.
We like to think that, even though we are selfish and petty with our siblings, we will be selfless and charitable with our spouse.
We like to think that when we have a job that excites our attention we will spend our free time doing more than watching TV.
We like to think that, when we have more money, we will be more generous with it.

If I do not have the self-restraint to walk by the cupcake shop without buying myself a cupcake (this is a very ascetical practice. You don't even understand how many cupcake shops I pass all the time), then I will never have the discipline to deny myself a wardrobe of designer clothes.
If I do not give a dollar to someone in need that I pass on the street; then, when I have a small fortune, I will never give them twenty.
If I do not learn how to give gifts to dear friends now; then, when I am wealthy enough to buy them yachts, I will never do so.
[Friends, I'm doing this for you. When I'm rich and famous, feel free to ask for a yacht, so I can regret writing grandiose statements about virtues when I'm young, idealistic, starry-eyed, and poor.]


All I have is who I am now.
If my life were to end tomorrow, I would not have all the credit of the person I was intending to become, all I would have to bring with me is the person that I am today.
Thus, the dreamer tries to learn the hard task of bringing your dreams into the present: all the dreams that I have in the future must be begun right now. There really is not this magical time-to-come where all the latent dreams inside of me decide to spring to life.
There is only the time that is now: time that has been given to us to shape and mold in the formation of truth. We have been given a certain amount of time to leave our mark on the world, to let our legacy be one of truth and goodness that none of the demolition machinery of world can raze.
Let us begin.



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