Serendipity in a New Way

It’s almost midnight. I should be in bed, but I’m not. Instead, I’m reflecting on the day just ending, stunned that the frenetic pace led to something so smooth. The morning started with coffee with friends who happen to be writers. Then, a flurry of activities concerning a function for which I volunteered but later regretted taking on the task. My regret has subsided a bit, though it remains alive and kicking.  Then, I had an unexpectedly positive experience at an event in Hot Springs. My wife and a friend and I drove to town to participate in an educational program about the history of Hot Springs and, specifically, the Hot Springs National Park. Frankly, I was expecting to be moderately bored. Instead, I was spell-bound! The information was intriguing and presented in a way that made me want to learn more. I discovered so many things about Hot Springs I had not known heretofore…incredible history, both on the human scale and the geological scale. And, if that wasn’t enough, we enjoyed a delightful evening participating in our “dinner for eight” group. Our hosts’ home on a small lake was welcoming, the food (made by all participants, with the entrees and some main sides provided by the hosts) was excellent, and the conversation was truly fascinating. We learned a bit more about our fellow diners and they learned a bit about us. The evening was absolutely outstanding; I could do it once a week!

As I think back on the day just ended, I appreciate how incredibly fortunate I am to live in this time, in this place, and alongside the people with whom I share my life. Too many people on the globe do not have ready access to all the luxuries, both substantive and intellectual, available to me. That’s a terrible fact that I think all of us ought to take action to correct. Where’s the line, though? At what point do I sufficiently diminish my luxuries to ensure the availability of necessities to others? It’s a philosophical and moral question; I can’t answer it with any consistency. I bounce between wanting to be an ascetic, giving my worldly goods away to people in need, and wanting to joyously accept the bounty of my good fortune. Somewhere in between, I would like to believe, there’s a morally defensible point at which I do not have to suffer unnecessarily, but neither do people who might benefit from my willingness to replace my gluttony with comfort.

God, I’ve done it again. I wanted to be joyous in my good fortune, but instead I’ve wallowed in a pit of self-blame that still smells of greed. Ach! If I could snap my fingers and make the world a better place, in which people willingly toiled for their good fortune and willingly shared with those for whom good fortune has given way to bad fortune, I would do it. I really do want every human being to be fed, clothed, sheltered, loved, and free of hatred. And I’d rather like the same for the creatures that share our planet. What a pipe-dream. No wonder people sneer and laugh at dreamers. But wouldn’t it be great if we could somehow turn the world into a utopian wonderland? Well, we could. But only if you join me on the quest. I’ll call you Sancho Panza. You can call me Al.

Back to today, though. This evening was the closest I’ve come to thinking, “you know, even though the idea of ‘church’ is anathema, I might be able to get over it if this is what I might get out of it.” I’m too set in my ways, though, to come to that conclusion so quickly. No. I’ll stay a friend for awhile…or forever…before I stumble into a role I might not want.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Serendipity in a New Way

  1. John Swinburn says:

    Robin, I’ve actually come to grips with reality, but I can’t stop hoping things will change in a flash for the better! Life here is great (except for the deep conservatism); from what I read, you and Roger live in a great place that fits you like a glove!

  2. robin andrea says:

    Hey Al, I’ll join you on your quest! I’ve been having that pipe-dream all my life. Actually, I have to admit that I’ve come to accept the world as it is. I am disappointed that it won’t be like my dreams, but at least I’m grateful that I had that dream.

    Sounds like things are really go well there for you. I like how you integrate into your community there. Sounds grand!

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