Do you ever stop yourself from doing something good, because you know there’s something better that you could do? (and then, end up not-doing the better thing and do no-thing instead?)
In The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin uses the example of her friends’ birthdays: she’d mean to send them a card, or call them on the phone, but either the day passed and she forgot, or pulling out stationery and finding a stamp, or digging up a phone number just was too high a barrier, and she’d let another birthday–and another chance to connect–pass by.
Her dilemma hit home for me: if I couldn’t think up some clever or especially meaningful thought or wish to share on a friend’s facebook page for his or her birthday, I just said nothing at all. My mind got used to ignoring the little birthday candle at the top of my newsfeed every day.
Rubin swallowed her pride, gathered all the pertinent birthdays into a program with requisite email addresses, and vowed to send an email to each person every year on their birthday. Sure, a card or a phone call would have been “better,” but if the barrier to those actions was just high enough to keep her from completing them, an email was definitely better than nothing.
On my birthday earlier this year, I noticed that it wasn’t the clever memories or sayings that delighted me as well-wishes showed up on my newsfeed all day. The messages that surprised and delighted me most were from those people with whom I hadn’t had contact over the last year, but who took just long enough to notice that it was my birthday, and to write two or three words on my wall. Just knowing that they’d thought of me warmed my heart and I started to see what it is that’s meant when we say “it’s the thought that counts,” or “90% of life is showing up.”–I’m often tempted to think that something’s got to be personalized, or super creative, or fantastically complex to be a good gift, or to be a job well done.
In and of ourselves, who we are when we’re just sitting on the couch, our very presence–that’s plenty for most people.
God created us to be fantastic, personalized, creative people just as we are, without energy-sapping window-dressing, complicated choreography, or intense planning. Just sitting on the couch, doing nothing, “contributing” (in an economic sense) nothing–we’re plenty.