Sunday, December 27, 2015


In the "liturgical" church world, it's still Christmas, and will stay that way until January 6th, the feast of Epiphany. It is still a time for joy. Not for shopping or decorating or... you know the list.

Now, who couldn't benefit from that? Y'know... Joy.

A superb Facebook post (sorry, don't have it at hand else I'd point you at it) discussed the difference between "taking" and "giving." Happiness comes from "taking," as in "I wanted This Thing and I got it so now I'm happy." But meaning, meaningful-ness, being meaning-full comes from giving. Giving doesn't just do "poof, now you're happy!" but and you can do it and not "become happy," and yet somehow... it's better.

Giving, even us MSers can do. Sit with a friend. Make tea. Listen to music... listen to your friend. A particular person called the other day, worried about his mother aging and all that comes with it and who is not doing well with it, and he reached out to someone whose life is also going in dark places health-wise (that'd be me), and maybe I could help her deal with it because I seem to be doing better with the journey?

Just listening is giving. The sort of giving that even us wheelchair- and more-than-a-little bed-bound can do with trivial effort... and joy.

My amazing and wonderful wife has her mother visiting for the holidays. We are blessed not just by her mom's boundless humor, and my wife's boundless love and happiness to have her mother here, but mom will do things like pop off to the store or wash a few dishes... the sort of things that give moms happiness just to do. Giving, y'know. Something moms are really good at, the "giving" thing.

Karen takes her mom off one afternoon to see some really really cool stuff here in Pasadena, and a friend of mine comes over to hang with me so they can feel free to pop off and not worry. Said friend I really enjoy hanging with each other, and yesterday I had him go through some vinyl records I keep carefully, including oddities like a recording of Fred Blassie singing "Pencil Neck Geek," stuff I don't even remember hearing, like the one labeled "Tupelo Chain Sex," Rufus Harley playing jazz bagpipes (you should hear him do Windy)... and a recording of a jazz version of Pictures at and Exhibition that as far as I can tell may not exist anywhere else besides that very record. I sent him home with it to enjoy on his record player, which he too has guarded jealously. I make him a cup of tea. I send him off to the neighborhood Starbucks for some ground coffee, which he puts through my French press (I got a lot of fun cooking gadgets), which he loves using and thinks makes a really good cup of coffee.

Zero cash exchanged. Well, I did buy my friend a hamburger for lunch, but he was the one who went down the street to pick up lunch for us both. Cash-wise, I don't think any of this counts.

But you see a pattern, don't you? Meaning comes from giving. Meaning reaches within, in a different and more profound way than just "happy" does.

And this kind of profound meaning is nothing that being nastily MS-ified stops from happening.

So, MS friends, there's your zero-side-effect prescription for the day. OK, I guess there is a side effect...


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