A few days ago—when writing a description for MLK Day of Service for a client—I stumbled across this quote from the Reverend himself: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”
I’ve been pondering this question all week—and am embarrassed to say that I can’t really answer it. Sure, I’ve always had grand ideas when it comes to volunteering and serving the community—and sometimes I actually do something about it—but for the most part, when it comes to executing those ideas, I fall flat on my face. The reasons are predictable: Work is too stressful. Weekends are too short. I’d rather go for a run. I need to sleep. The reasons are also lame: How much time do I actually spend on the couch, enjoying some wine and watching Anthony Bourdain? If I were to answer that—which I won’t—I would say a lot. But then I got to thinking: “Doing for others” doesn’t necessarily require a lofty intent. It can be as simple as giving a truffle to a friend who’s having a bad day. It can be as easy as punching a few digits and asking, “Is there anything you need?” of a relative living alone. It can be as fast as carrying an elderly neighbor’s groceries into the house. And yet—as each of you has come to know about me—I still fall flat on my face.
But you don’t.
Whether you realize it or not, you’ve each done something for others this year—and I know this because I’ve been one of the lucky recipients. You’ve watched our cats. You’ve bought us dinner. You’ve gone out of your way to serve gluten-free goodies, despite the inconvenience. You’ve helped paint our house. You’ve become foster parents to a 1950s-era stove. You’ve laughed at my juvenile jokes. You’ve shared even more juvenile jokes. You’ve been there. You’ve listened. You’ve thought of me.
This Thanksgiving, as I contemplate ways I can improve my own “doing for others,” I’m grateful for this: That no matter how self-absorbed I am—no matter how many times I fail at delivering that truffle, picking up that phone, or carrying those groceries—you accept that about me, and expect nothing more. While I don’t say it enough, I am truly fortunate to have you in my life.
May you find yourself surrounded by good family, great friends, and the warmth and comfort of home this year. Happy Thanksgiving!