Repent the day before you die. — The Talmud
Here’s something for the season of giving.
When Big Little Wolf began her campaign to raise money for a renal transplant for Ashley Quiñones, the odds looked insurmountable. The bill was going to be a quarter of a million dollars.
“I have to do something,” she said.
Two weeks ago, Medicaid reversed its decision to withold funds for the transplant, and the bill dropped to $50,000. Counting money raised by the family, and BLW’s campaign, Ashley is now within $20,000 of her goal.
As part of her efforts, BLW asked her community to think of what they might want to be doing in five years, and to write a post about it. Because being alive five years from now is an assumption.
As is, the Talmud implies, being alive tomorrow.
The wind one day washed my soul in jasmine, and said,
‘In return, give me the scent of your roses.’
‘My roses are dead,’ I said.
‘Then give me the withered petals,
the yellow leaves, and water.’
When the wind was gone, I wept.
What had I done with the garden entrusted to me?
— Antonio Machado
Nick is the garden entrusted to me. In five years time he will be fourteen. Fourteen was the age I came into my sense of personhood. Not to say I became an adult, but something more than a child. I began not to assume things. I don’t know if it will be the same for Nick at fourteen, but my plan is to be around when he gets there.
My other plan, newly hatched, is to be making a living at writing by then.
What of Big Plans? What of raising a quarter of a million for a kidney transplant for someone you barely know? What of our national descent into corporate oligarchy?
If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
If not now, when?
Not long ago, I had lunch with Bruce Dolan, of Privilege of Parenting.
“What’s your plan to fix this country?” he said to me, as I worked on a bowl of spaghetti checka.
“A constitutional amendment to ban money from politics,” I said. “And yours?”
“Guaranteed maternal work leave for the first 18 months of life,” he said.
Mine was an external plan, rules from above to level the playing field. His got at the thing from inside, a vision about a nation of kids raised with secure attachments who would grow into a nation of un-selfish adults.
Which is a vision about the power of love.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is slow to anger, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
The money that Big Little Wolf caused to be added to Ashley Quiñones’s transplant fund made only a small dent in the bill. But her example of generosity gave the family heart in their fight against an unjust medical system. I call that love, and a demonstration of love’s power.
No plan that excludes love has much of a chance.
I don’t want writing to be a plan without love. It’s not an issue of writing for money versus writing for a cause. I’m pretty sure what it comes down to is whom you’re writing to, and the way you’re writing to them.
I’m pretty sure it takes more courage to write a love note than to try to change someone.
You can read all about it on BLW’s magnificent blog, Daily Plate of Crazy. There’s a link to donate at the end of the post.
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What’s your five year plan? (Add your thoughts by clicking a few lines below below, where it says comments or add one. I always respond here.)
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