Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Steel gossamer

In this world, among the various types of people, there are those who consume and those who create. That's not to say that people who consume do not create, nor that people who create do not consume. It's to say that people come at the world from the perspective of consumption or the perspective of creation. And you can't have it both ways.

People who foundationally understand the world through the lens of consumption are those who believe that the work they do is intended for generating a reward they can gather as a result of their labor. And at the end of successful work, they believe they deserve the fruits they have gathered.

People who foundationally understand the world through the lens of creation are those who believe that the results of the work they do is intended to be consumed by others. At the end of successful work, others receive the fruits of their labor.

There are few people in the second category. And honestly, I am not sure I am one of them, although I think I might be, I want to be and I try.

But what I have noticed is that the people who fall into that second category, and I mean really fall into that second category, like at the bottom of an enormous pit, fall into that second category - are really rare.

The work these people do ranges widely - artists who create for the pure human connection their work; aid or missionary workers in Haiti, or Africa, or even modern ghettos in New York; social workers, crisis hotline staff, shelter workers, - people who give unglamorously of themselves for the betterment of others. It can also be someone who reaches out to a friend and suggests they meet another person whom they would like. Then step out of the middle and let it be. It could be a cup of coffee bought by a stranger. It does not have to be a big thing to be a big thing.

Of course, all those things can be done by someone who is really a consumer. The creation is not just in the act, but in the attitude and how it informs every decision, every action, every reaction that someone does. And that attitude directly affects the recipient of the creation.

If it's done out of a desire for reward, then it has one meaning. One that requires something back from the recipient. If it's done out of creation, it requires nothing in return. For people in the consuming category, it's about them. For people in the creation category, it's about you.

People who are true creators, in addition to the work they do, create a web around them. A web of people who tie into them and give back into the web. A web that feels so fragile, so tenuous, but when push comes to shove, is stronger than any contrived hierarchical web created to give power.

If you are lucky enough to have become entangled in such a web, don't let go. If you are so lucky a person has created such a web around you, be thankful and appreciative. If you are so lucky that you have an opportunity to give back to this web, do it without hesitation.

In addition to my wife Heather, I personally really only know a few other people who are genuine creators.

Janet and Don just left after visiting for 5 sleeps. It's not just that Janet washed every single piece of baby clothes, cooked for all of us, cleaned and loved the boys. It's not just that Don gutted our front garden and redid the entire thing, or did a major overhaul on the sandbox, or built the new Adirondacks, or loved the boys. It's not that when from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave energy and fuel is poured into our lives.

It's not just that they did those things. It's that when they did them, they did them for us. They gave to that web, they gave not for them, but for us. They entangled us in their steel gossamer web. And they are like that all day, every day.

And for that we are all thankful.


Malia'sMama said...

The love and respect you have for your inlaws is truly beautiful. What a lovely thing for the boys to grow up experiencing with TV etc always portaying these relationships as being of seething "tolerance", bumbling, or outright dislike.

Karen Vitek said...

I just wanted you to know that I had tears in my eyes when I read this post. I personally know what it means to be in that gossamer web. I hope I have given back but sometimes it feels like I need so much lately. I also just loved the photos of the boys and MorMor and MorFar. Tell them I got a san-shin (strike out) poster from some friends who saw Dice-K pitch at Fenway against the Redsox! Pretty cool!

Troy & Tara Livesay Family said...

Great post Braydon, I was thinking Heather was writing at first - thanks for sharing your appreciation for Heathers Mom and Dad -- when I see that they have visited ... honestly ... I feel insanely jealous. It makes me miss my parents - both for myself and the kids. I am so happy you guys have such strong support and love all around you. How many days till baby time now?

Anonymous said...

I love you Braydon.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful way of describing the true essence of Don and Janet's
life. Those of us who have been recipients of their unconditional love and support are blessed.
They are special.
Love to your family

Jon said...

From a Christian viewpoint, this is what you've just described...Christianity! "To serve, not to be served."
Well said - family can be such a blessing!

Something I struggle to do. Thanks for the reminder.

(And the photos are looking good.)