Thursday, July 13, 2006


The cooling rains ended last night and I have the ceiling fan in the living room and the little fan in the bedroom going, neither of which help alleviate those center of hell moments. Luckily, they last mere seconds instead of minutes, which is a good thing since I cannot remember to take the pills I bought to alleviate my symptoms. This day has not gone quite as expected and I am faced once again with customer service (what a dead language those words are) issues. With all the technology available you'd think someone would actually be able to fix a minor problem without costing me more time and wasting more of my time, but, alas, that is not to be. There is no service in customer service, just an archaic word from a much older and now forgotten time when people solved customer difficulties, thus giving them a job with something more to do than sitting on the arses and answering phone calls just to tell people they cannot help them. Sort of like a help desk run by no one.

I talked to my mother today and she was appalled to find out that her records are the property of her retired doctor and she must pay $27 a page to have her file copied and sent to her new doctor. Evidently, no one at that office ever bothered to read the HIPAA regulations or even consulted common sense. The files may be in the doctor's office but they are the property of the patient and as such are to be released to the patient when requested by the patient or by a referring doctor, as long as the bill is current and the proper paperwork has been signed and submitted. I am feeling a little hot and cranky and I offered to talk to the doctor's staff at his office. They were gone for the day. I'll get them tomorrow morning bright and early and I did leave a message, which they will either ignore or not get, depending on their Machiavellian machinations.

I was in a good mood despite the lack of cooling rain-washed breezes until I was faced with more garbage like this. I was even enjoying a discussion on books and inscriptions and autographs and how much I learn and get from the people on LJ whose journals I read. I was also promiscuously offering advice on gift giving and charity.

I like the idea of buying a second hand book that someone has loved and thought about, reread and written in, and even perhaps given as a gift to someone else, noting their gift by an inscription. That brought up the negative side: death, spurned gifts and gifts that were left when the relationship grew cold and died. I prefer to look on the brighter side of things. Whatever the reason for the book ending up in a second hand shop, it gives me the chance to share a moment with the previous owner (or buyer of the gift) like a time capsule of sentiment and thought. You learn so much about a person through writing in the margins and where the book opens on an often read and reread page or where they stopped when they put down the book.

This led to a discussion about giving a book to someone who cared so little about your inscribed gift they gave it to someone else or threw it in the trash or sold it at a second hand store. I asked whether the person was angry because they had been spurned and if their only intention in giving the book was to be recognized and thanked and, in a sense, enshrined.

Gifts are like charity, or should be like blind charity, giving a gift because you care about someone and want to show that but without expecting anything from them -- even a thank you. When you expect a gift in return or some gift of thanks and/or affection you diminish the gift and make it a trade. I'll give you a gift if you give me what I want -- attention, acceptance, acknowledgment, love, etc. (wasn't trying for alliteration, it just happened) Charity should be blind -- if given at all -- because when you put a name and a face to the gift you build expectations of being acknowledge and accepted and even thanked. If you don't get what you're expecting you end up angry and hurt and/or just plain sad and blame the person. Gifts are like love -- you love because you want to give someone something special, but you put limitations on love and on relationships when you expect -- and even demand -- reciprocity. If you truly love someone, it shouldn't matter whether or not they respond. The gift of love needs no acknowledgment. It simply exists for itself, for the sake of love.

I know. It sounds sappy and sentimental, but all too often we all build expectations in our minds when we offer a gift or charity or love about what we want in return. That's not a gift. That's an exchange of one thing for another. I give you love and you give me back love or I won't love you as much. Love then becomes a transaction instead of a gift. You are buying a response, a feeling, acknowledgment, acceptance, attention, etc. with your love. That's not love.

This is why I have such a problem with laying up treasures in heaven. It's a transaction. I agree to be a moral person and do what's right because I expect you (deity, god, goddess, etc.) to reward me with paradise. Giving money to a church is the same thing. When any entity supposedly doing good and asking for your donations to help with the work expects you to pay them for their job it becomes a decision of whether or not to employ them or loan them the money with the expectation of a return of some kind. You become an employer who is paying for a service (in this case placing a bug in god's ear on your behalf or buying a seat on the expressway to heaven) and that defeats the purpose.

When we learn to love with expectations, without the usual quid pro quo exchanges and disappointments, we will have truly evolved. When we can say we love someone and want their happiness even if it doesn't include us and mean it, then we will have truly evolved and we will find few angry, disappointed and hurt people in the world.

I'll shut up now.

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