What is $20?

Weeks after my Mother has told us that we need to watch what we use, for financial purposes, my Father walks into the living room, my brothers and I sitting on the couch fixated on the TV as usual. He looks at us, then the screen, and back at us again, He says, “Let’s go!” motioning me. I jump out of the couch and follow him to the door.

We get into the car and we’re driving in the evening, “Where are we going?” I ask finally, “Oh well, you said ‘Pizza’ so we’re getting pizza.” He responds. Shocked, I say, “Wait, didn’t Mom tell us that we need to save money? We can’t go for pizza!” “Well… What’s $20?”

There’s a phrase that goes, “When you have 2 shillings, you buy Bread with one, and a Flower with the other.”

I’ve always wondered about this phrase, and the purpose of such a thing, I mean, it’s interesting in the sense that it’s saying, ‘buy something you need, and then buy something fun/flirty/loving/inedible’ and my Father saw that, despite whatever hardships one is experiencing, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a bit of fun. If nothing else, that small bit of fun helps you by relaxing you, and if only for a moment, taking your mind off the utter stress you’ve been placed under.

My Father realizes that no one can be serious 100% of the time, there has to be– no, there must be time to laugh, to smile, to forget about one’s worries, and lose oneself in a moment of pure joy, of relaxation, of love.

The world isn’t perfect, that’s given, and it’ll always be hard on you, without withholding any blow however severe, the world is cruel, calculating, and oftentimes confusing. But no where in there does it say that you can’t tickle someone, that you can’t hug a friend, you can’t kiss a love, you can’t laugh with your children.

And then you see it, despite the fact that the flower costs as much as a loaf of bread, the flower is just as necessary as the bread, sure you could’ve bought 2 loaves, yet you’d have too much bread and something goes to waste, not the loaves, but your own heart. If you don’t place happiness, or joy, or laughter, or even a bit of stupidity in your life, you’ll constantly be surrounded by stress, which weighs rather heavily on the consciousness, without something light, you’ll strain your thought processing will be on constant high gear, thus wearing out far beyond it’s intended expiration date.

Because once you really think about it, what is it that you’re worrying about? Bills, electronics, heat, water, shelter, all tied to pieces of paper saying this and that. We are designed to respond to this by throwing other smaller pieces of paper at it, and they respond by throwing other pieces of paper at us, and we reply with our previous response, and the cycle continues, until someone stops throwing paper at the other.

We are biologically designed to think, to move, to feel, to live, to laugh, to love, to smile, to cry, to feel pain, to reach for the stars, we are not designed to stress over notices, payments, overdue bills, insurance, debts, money. The body is meant to move, whether inside or out, we are not meant to be under paper yokes that bind us to a singular place, we’re meant to stress that someone/something is coming to kill us or eat us, not whether they’ll take our money or our stuff away.

That’s why there’s a Flower that accompanies the loaf of bread, or a pizza that goes with the house payment, because sometimes you need that little victory over the stress, that small piece that says, “I will have this moment, just for me, where the world cannot touch it.”

These moments are manifested in various things, from flowers to pizza.

It’s necessary to have a moment to yourself, a moment that seems insignificant in the long run, as well as the memory, until you’ve overcame your obstacles and you can look back. Your accomplishments will be the triumph, but those moments that you’ve forgotten will be the ‘umph’ that kept you ‘tri’-ing.

Heh, in these moments when you think overall it means nothing, yet you find out that it is in these moments that you’ve learned how meaningful they truly are.

$20 can buy so many necessary things, from food to a payment, yet, sometimes the most necessary thing in life, is the thing that makes life worthwhile.

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The Small Things

It was a typical Saturday, late in the afternoon, we were coming home from the Mass, and my father, who was driving, turns towards whoever was sitting in the passenger seat, saying, “Ahh? Did you say ‘Pizza’? OK! We’ll go get pizza!”

Mind you, my father would say, ‘Ahh?’ as if some derivative of the classic ‘Eh?’ that people would often say, as a replacement for ‘What?’ or ‘Whaaa?’

With the silence now shattered, the Passenger, which would be either one of my brothers or myself, would start calling my Father crazy for hearing things, and deny saying anything in the first place, yet my Father remains unaltered and drives us to whatever pizza place he had in mind…

The following Saturday, the cycle continues…

I asked him one day, why he got pizza every weekend, and he told me that in Mexico, he never got any pizza. It was a simple joy in his life, and he relished it, however small. To me, being raised on such a luxury, pizza, was hardly considered a luxury at all, but more like an insignificant morsel, at ready access whenever a whim moves me so, yet for my Father, Pizza was fascinating, it was always something new to him, always something to be enjoyed and always something that brought happiness.

Rule 32: Enjoy the Little Things

I can see it now, the hard days that just beat you down, the unforgiving people who are too caught up in their own affairs, those times when it feels like all of the world is on your shoulders and your new name is Atlas, but then, something comes along and makes you smile. A little girl gives you a flower, someone you never knew smiles sincerely at you, you catch that whiff of a freshly brewed coffee, a Sun rise, a tasty treat that you never had access to before.

This was Pizza for my Father, no matter how bad the days, there was always something small and seemingly insignificant that helps him get through, that lightens the load, if only an ounce. Granted, he had great times with us, but this was during the mundane parts of the year, when routine sucks one’s soul, and the world feels gray, every weekend, Pizza rejuvenated him, if only for that week.

And so, I know now that I have to find the small things in life, things that might not matter to anyone else, but me, or things that people pay no mind to, and find such pure joy within them. I know I already have some, and I know that there will always be more, yet, through my Father, I’ve learned the power behind something so small, heh, kind of like Hope, it’s small, fragile, and can be utterly stamped out, yet it still remains, so long as one person is willing to go out to search for it…… or if he happens to be the driver.

For me, I’ve always relished intangible things, such as a strong wind, or Rain, or the Stars, or even clouds, just standing there and experiencing such things brings me to peace. Yet, I’m not without my treats, I’m a complete sucker for chocolate, I often joke that if there was Chocolate-flavored poison, I’d drink it.

But the point is that these small things are needed. They need to be there in one’s life to give them a breath of freshness, when it seems pointless to keep going, or trying so hard. An act so small, can give someone such a sensation that their entire lives and perspectives are changed through such an act.

Whatever it is that brings you joy, however small and insignificant it may be, please enjoy it, because it’s meant for you.

But the Poor shall forever remain among you

A couple of days ago, I was out getting some pizza, and as I was leaving, there was a girl in worn-out sweatpants and a hoodie I hesitate for a moment and gave her what little money I had in my wallet: $3. It was all I had, and she barely acknowledged me as I handed it to her, then her family came by and they were asking her questions, I didn’t pay attention to their conversation, however I did notice that the girl was kinda… cute.

As I was walking to the car, another individual came up to me. He told me that he was a retired Vet, and asked if I had any spare change, to my regret, I apologetically told him that I had given my last bit of change to the girl and her family. He gestured that she’d probably use said money for drugs, to which I responded, “It’s better for me to be tricked being a Good guy, than not do anything.” and then he left. 2 homeless people in 5 mins, and they were from different backgrounds, and although a part of me agreed with the Vet, that the cute girl would probably fall into drugs using the money I gave her, I have no regrets giving her what little money I had, but I always feel that I could do more.

On the ride back, I started thinking, remembering actually, how my friend Maricris would always say that she feels bad for the poor and homeless whenever we pass them by on the road. She’d always finish with a desire to help them one day, because no one deserves to live as anything less than human. She always treated people with respect and kindness, because she knows what it was like to have limited resources, and a not-so-perfect life. But like me, she grew strong, and although she’s more fragile and more easily scared by the world, her well of kindness is always deep.

Mark 14:7 “For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: But me ye have not always.” King James Version. And it’s true, no matter how hard we try to make this place better, there will always be someone who’s lost everything and unable to make ends meet, and eventually those ends will come loose and unravel and everything will fall apart for that individual, or for that group of people. So it leaves the question what can one do? If there’s almost no end to this, save for extreme measures, how can one person helpso many people who are lost and suffering, some out of circumstance, others out of their own decisions and demons. Can one save one but not help the other? Of course not, because how will one be able to tell the difference? Where does the line lie for those who are suffering because of one reason and those who are suffering because of another?

Heh… That’s really depressing, when it’s put like that, almost as if any and all efforts to remedy this is meaningless. But I remember a story I read, about something similar to all this…

While walking along a beach, an elderly wise man saw someone in the distance leaning down, picking something up and throwing it into the ocean.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, picking up starfish one by one and tossing each one gently back into the water.

He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “I made a difference to that one!”

Heh, It’s strange what going out for some pizza can do for someone.