I walk exactly 100 blocks to pickup a monograph I am using for research. Some 15 blocks from my destination, a man jogs past me and a crisply folded dollar bill falls onto the sidewalk from his jacket, as if done intentionally with such clean choreography. I watch it happen, it is nearly embarrassing, and I consider why this man may have done this on purpose; the contemporary approach to a holiday charity. I pick up the bill and run down the block to catch up with the man, holding out the money to him as I fall into his stride. It is as if he is expecting me when he turns casually, smiles, and says, "Oh! Thank you!" He gingerly takes the bill, turns back to the sidewalk, and keeps moving. I walk behind and watch him continue to run away from me, my eyes hoping to see another flight of fancy falling from his pocket.
I consider what I might do if he drops his money again.
It is either a game of finders-keepers after once being kind, or it is a game of three-times-a-charm if his money falls twice more.
There are some acts of kindness that are done genuinely with compassion. These are the selfless choices of caring that have the intention of helping because it would please us to know the recipient has received help. It holds meaning to want to help this chosen recipient and there is an importance placed on seeing that help pay off.
The other acts of kindness are done with the intention to do good in order to be rewarded. It is more important to give any help at all than to ensure the help follows through with its intentions to alleviate problems. This kind of self-fulfilling selflessness can also come in the form of gifting to others with the intention of the recipients repaying their gratitude with pleasures for the one who is so kind to give in the first, unsolicited, place.
I wonder if the man had considered giving me his money, a test of whether or not I had foiled his attempt at anonymous philanthropy.
He never turns back though. He keeps on running.
I could have easily kept the money, despite onlookers, to have fully covered the price of the monograph I am picking up, but I need not think twice about returning the bill because I tell myself karma will come back to me.
If history has proven anything, it is that returns will happen but of their own volition, and I am but a figment of the returns' desires to return at all.
Is common courtesy considered being selfless or being understanding of social etiquette?
I wonder if karma can read my thoughts and if karma has decided I am too selfish to be selflessly granted the other half of charity.
Is it still selfless if done grudgingly? What if the martyr screams in suffering while burning at the stake? What if the sacrifice admits regret before the knife carves out the heart for the offering?
When circumstances change before a plan is followed through to completion, we are given a choice between attempting to continue, continuing as usual but with haphazard results, or abandoning the plan for another time or for good. How countlessly do things not go according to plan? The subway is delayed and you're running late to an event for which you are not guaranteed entry: do you try to still make it or save yourself the time and effort of risking total let down by turning around and going home, or elsewhere? You're not feeling so well and don't think the travel to the party and then back will make you feel any better, to say nothing of letting you enjoy the company or vice versa. You miss the train. Your car needs gas. It is raining and you don't have an umbrella. The restaurant cannot seat you now. The doctor cannot see you now. Your mother calls. Your boss is displeased. Your lover leaves you. Someone dies. You still have work to do.
I wonder if a job falls into the category of selfless.
Is it possible to define the criteria for selflessness, and would it be a graph, a checklist, a diagram, a paint-by-number?
Color in the 6 shape with a match-tone of your flesh. If you have a 6, 6, 6 in a row then you know you are Selfish.
Volition is decision, by which judgment is made through consciousness. I will therefore I am.
Will meaning to usher in an anticipation or will meaning to do in the future? One is escorting in, the other is a projection forwards. The concepts are headed in opposite directions yet the vehicle is the same four-letter arrangement.
I am reminded of souffler, the French paradoxical verb for to blow as well as to suck. The actions are opposing forces but share the same face, like Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, endings, and passageways, or like Janice, derived from Jane, the female version of John, and therefore somewhat hermaphroditic. Janice comes from Hebrew meaning god is gracious but to have one word referring to a single mortal person while simultaneously referring to an unknown divinity is somewhat hermaphroditic, too.
If opposites attract but one means two opposites, then is there no attraction at all?
Where is the line between can and will?
Can do is the capacity of ability, will do is the foreshadowing of intent.
If you cannot do something it does not mean you will not do it.
There is a line between can and will, even if you do not see it.
Janus only has one head but with two faces can souffler and souffler at the same time if he wants to.