Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Value of a Dollar

I think it's safe to say that we all have things we want and need. If I were to list all of those things, that would make up my entire blog (my husband knows this). The list would only get bigger as Christmas, my big birthday, our anniversary, my commencement, my baptismal birthday, and other achievements worth celebrating approached. Give me, give me. I can be so selfish at times.

I didn't know what it meant to give and how sometimes giving can be more rewarding than receiving until lately. I don't know if it's because that's something that comes with age and awareness or because of the the events that have transpired in my life which has caused me to look beyond my own self-serving needs.

When I see others less fortunate and not so well off as I am, my heart goes out to them. Even when I was making minimum wage and living paycheck to paycheck.

I remember when I was living in Redondo Beach (CA) where I eventually met my husband. Even though I was making decent money, my bills were hocked up to the hilt and that's all I worked day in and day out to pay for. Every remaining penny went to settle debts after they were spent night after night at Sharkeez, drinking my stress away. Meanwhile I was living off of Top Ramin and eggs--scraping up all the spare change I had just to put one dollar and fifty three cents in the gas pump to fill up my car so I can drive to work and classes at the local community college. I remember one time when I had five dollars to go on for the next two weeks until payday...LOL.

When bums would ask me if I had a dollar to spare, I still gave them what I had, all the while thinking, dude--I am just as poor as you because I am also broke. I may wear a suit and drive a car but I am IN DEBT. Actually, I am worse off than you. A higher class of bumness if there is such a word. Because I am sure that you don't have rent or car payments to make along with the maintenance that comes along with that as I do.
But I am humbled by my beginnings. A refugee eating grasshoppers and red ants picking rubberbands out of trash to play with; from a family without a penny to their name when we came to the states in 1983.

I am no longer that poor little girl but my memory sticks with me. I will never forget that sponsor from France who sent me a stuffed rabbit (it reminded me of the Velveteen Rabbit) with caramel for my 6th birthday. If you are out there, I have not forgotten you for you made an impression in my life. I did not know that I didn't have much, but I knew that some stranger out there cared enough for me to send ME a gift.

Now that I am better off than the days before, I am more sensitive to those less fortunate and I think I understand hwat it means to give to others and not so much to myself. Don't get me wrong--I still have things that I want and "need" but now there are priorities for the things that truly matter.

Besides, what good is money if you can't do anything with it?

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