Three Things

Of searching and finding,

giving and taking,

breaking and creating.

I am willing the dusk to stay, because I like this time of day. It triggers a sense of reflection no other time of day can.

I am sifting in my head, the things I’ve learned of late. There are three.

You always find things when you’re not looking for them.

You stumble upon them while you’re busy doing other things.
Ball pens, papers, hair ties—you can never find these things when you look for them. But give it a little time; do something else. At a certain point, they are bound to resurface, and you are bound to come across them. Accidentally. As if house elves have been playing a trick on you. Now that you’re not looking, you find.

I have a feeling the same is true with a lot of other things in life, of things that are not actually things.

You always find them when you’re not looking for them.
You stumble upon them while you’re busy doing other things.
Give it a little time; do something else.

There are people who are givers, and there are people who are takers.

I recently watched a TED talk on this topic and I’ve since tried to discern which side of the line I and the people I meet or have in my life fall on. I believe that much of the way people treat others and behave in general can be explained by whether they are givers or takers. More importantly, though, the giver/taker dichotomy touches on the question of intention.

See, two people can work towards and achieve the same results, but have totally different intentions for doing so. Results are important, but for me, intentions and motivations are even more so. It is not overt behavior alone that defines a person. If you want to know his character—the way his heart is shaped, if you will—you have to consider intention and motivation. Did he give for the sake of giving, in Aurelius’ words, “like the vine which produces a cluster of grapes and then, having yielded its rightful fruit, looks for no more thanks than a horse that has run his race”? Or did he give so he could later take for himself—maybe applause, maybe a return-favor, maybe a place up a pedestal, maybe a reward from the heavens?

Some hurts cannot be undone, and mark the person for life, like a splatter of indelible ink on paper. Different people deal with these kinds of hurts, these kinds of ink splatters on their life-paper, differently.

Some cannot bear to see the clumsy black against white; the paper is ruined, they say, there is no use for this. They tear the paper apart.

Others somehow find it in themselves to see the splatter as art. They say, from this angle, it looks like a horse. I will draw it ears and a tail and define its muscly torso. Taking a pen, they draw on and around the splatter to complete the picture. To these people, the paper has not been ruined by the splatter. It’s been transformed forever, yes, but not ruined. There is beauty there, and they drew it themselves. ♣

Of searching and finding,

giving and taking,

breaking and creating—

Life is one or the other,

or both at once.

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