Once upon a time whenever I felt like going to a party I threw one.
Didn’t matter if my house was messy (often), or if the wine glasses were dusty (almost certainly), or if I had the cash to lay out a nice spread. I would tell some folks to drop by, buy the booze & wine, put out some nuts, and the rest would take care of itself. Friends would bring other friends and everyone chipped in some snacks or beer. Put a record on and we were in business.
Slowly over the last ten years I have stressed more about how the house looks, what I am serving, inviting a good mix of people who will have intersecting interests, and so on.
Now I’m not about to give up my fancy cheese habit (thank you Whole Foods Pusher-Man), or the much higher quality alcohol I now indulge in, but I am setting a course for increased casual entertaining. Getting together with old friends, new friends and friends of friends to relax and talk. Hang out. Maybe calling it a party is what has made it seem like I had to invest so much effort. That and the fact that people don’t drop by any more.
I don’t know if the drop by was a symptom of the culture I grew up in, or just a more casual period of time when you didn’t make dates and calendar every damn thing. Yes I just used calendar as a verb. And its not the first time you’ve heard it.
I hope I can cultivate this idea that its OK, and even appreciated, when someone drops by. Have a glass of tea on the swing, a beer on the patio, or just sit on the steps and shoot the breeze for a little while. I feel like when I am really present, here, and not in my head, time expands and there is room for everything.
So summer 2013. Open invitation, open door, drop on by. Happy Solstice everyone.
One of the interesting things I have found about writing a blog is the sense of obligation I feel to unseen readers. I know I have exactly six followers (the little icons show up on the bottom of the page) and a handful of other folks who have told me they read it. So when I don’t post three or four times a week I feel it niggling in the back of my mind.
One thought that has returned repeatedly in the time between the last post and this – which was by no means empty I assure you – is the use of the phrase “A drop in the bucket”. This caught my attention a few weeks ago in a story about Syria. The person reporting the International Aid provided had a very disgusted tone and was stressing that it was so little as to be meaningless. Then, as these things do, I started hearing “a drop in the bucket” in all sorts of conversations.
I couldn’t help wondering if the people on the receiving end in Syria, as much as they need a great deal more intervention and attention, were not happy to receive something rather than nothing. It is a curious attitude people often have about the worth of effort. “Choose your battles” is another one that implies futility to me. My question, which I’m sure is rich for psychoanalysis, is ‘Just because something is futile, does that mean you shouldn’t do it?’
I would love to be part of the grand gesture, launch the world-changing movement or earn a place in the history books, but that doesn’t mean I turn away from the individual kindness, the small monetary contribution or the tedium of what needs doing. It’s not even that I have a “pay it forward” mentality (another phrase that could use some critical analysis as to the self-benefit attached to “public” altruism), I think I am much more utilitarian – do what you can, when you can.
The futility calculation translates too easily into helplessness and it’s easily forgotten that drops add up and fill the bucket, that molehills piled on top of each other become a mountain. Sometimes my “something” ends up being simply sending thoughts into the world via my little blog noodlings. Conversation I am having with the world. Or myself. That part is less clear.
But at least its something rather than nothing.
You may have been subjected to a personality test at some point in your adult life – Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), Strengths Finder – there are oh so many to choose from. If you have it’s likely it was a Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator was which I have written about before.
If you have your type memorized (I am either ENTJ or ESTJ depending on the day), you can indulge in the humor of the Prayer Grid below. It is so hard to get out of our boxes. That is one of my goals this year, to at least climb into or try on some new boxes. Recommendations?