Whenever I'm unemployed and have a lot of free time on my hands, I try to take the opportunity to spend my time wisely: not only by exploring the nether reaches of wherever I am or can afford to go, but also by repaying my karmic debt.
Instead of feeding the homeless or embarking on some other socially-responsible volunteerism, I try to help those in need from my immediate social circle. If someone complains of illness, I offer to visit. (They almost always decline.) If they are apartment hunting, I offer to accompany them on viewings. And when they are ready to move, I offer to help.
I know how hard it is to move. And I know how hard it is to ask for the help you so desperately need.
Having moved several times over the years without help from my own parents, I always had to depend on others: Nicki's mom from dorm-to-dorm, Maria on graduation night, Tim through the Holland Tunnel and to NYU in the pouring rain, Terry's parents to Brooklyn, Anthony, Michelle, James, Alex, Dan, Edith, Eric... So, if I don't have the opportunity to repay those who have helped me in the past, the least I can do is pay it forward.
I still feel pretty new in town after having been in LA for a year and a half, so truthfully, anyone I volunteer to help isn't that good of a friend, or a person I know very well. But that doesn't stop me from offering. Given my health situation, I can't do much heavy lifting, but sometimes it's good to have an extra body on hand.
I was glad when a friend took me up on my offer this weekend, and let me help him, even if it was only to act as the lookout at the open, half-filled truck parked at a red curb bus zone, warding off thieves and parking enforcement.
But the saddest fact of my life is, as much as I was glad to help out (though I really didn't feel like I did very much), what I really appreciated - and what I think motivated me from the time I initially offered - was the opportunity just to hang out.
And after all of the expressions of gratitude and appreciation once it was over - the commentary that "This was really nice of you" - all I wanted to do was thank them for letting me hang out.
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