Receiving

I’ve been crying rather a lot lately, partly out of gratitude. I’m grateful for the many people, maybe you, who have given money for my wife’s cancer treatment. I’m also astounded, humbled, and maybe flummoxed. I know that people are essentially good and can manage our own affairs reasonably well without threat of violence, and still if I think about your compassion and generosity I end up slack-jawed at the awesomeness of you. Then I cry.

Even people I’d never heard of have given us money, sometimes hundreds of dollars. The biggest donors are people we don’t know. A guy I barely know handed me a C-note in the co-op, just put it in my hand, to help pay for Janice’s treatment. That time I got to the parking lot before I cried.

Some years ago, trying to raise money for an alternative newspaper, I happened to take part in a meeting with a billionaire. His office was obvious, and he opened with a story about how when his father had been sick recently he’d simply hired a plane and had the old man flown out to the best place on the continent for treating the old man’s ailment. Those of us with experience with the obscenely rich were duly impressed with this guy’s selfless generosity toward his also-rich father’s health care. The three of us were there begging for chump change, and he was bragging about his wealth like we might have missed it.

And I want to do the same for Janice, spare no expense, just keep doing what’s working and I’ll take care of it, and I know that I can’t take care of squat. Sometimes that makes me cry, too, that after a lifetime of trying to accumulate more and better stuff, I don’t have much. Part of me feels responsible and a failure, for a little while anyway, for not having been better at wage slavery or even capitalism—more cause for weeping.

So far the hardest part is learning to receive the gifts of the universe, this time obviously routed through you, and also more commonly and subtly routed where I least expect it. I’m grateful for getting to know Janice better. Her persistence is something to behold. She makes me feel flighty, another reason to cry.

My emotional life is such that I’m perfectly capable of bursting into laughter or tears at any moment. There’s so damn much profundity and joy and awe in my life, I don’t know what to expect from one minute to the next, which is probably just as well.

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