Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Subtle Rewards of Quiet Caring

I recently added a new worker to the project I've been cooking up for a year or so. Unlike our other team members, who work as a partnership, her role's more limited, so she's being paid as a clerical worker.

Today I noticed her caring. She did some small things better than she needed to. Not to impress me, and not to make any splash. She didn't realize anyone was paying attention, but small touches revealed sincerity beyond her own self-interest. She'd invested more than was necessary, and the result had some love in it. An ember, not a bonfire. Like a little secret, or a child's wish; small but pure.

I quietly made an adjustment to her compensation which may well translate into a small windfall down the road. I don't believe she entirely registered this; she wasn't really paying attention. (Very few people care when no one's looking - which is why I was touched today - but still fewer care about caring to the point where they notice it in others; it's quite a lonely perch.) But that's fine by me. We'd both quietly done the right thing, without fuss.

In this late stage of capitalism, caring more than strictly necessary seems like an irrational indulgence, and it rarely seems to be rewarded. There were long years when this observation led me to despair. But not all rewards are explicit. The good stuff's subtle (and the great stuff's very subtle). On occasions when you've lavished uncommon care, you really can't be sure it wasn't noticed. And you likely failed to register the quiet blessings that came your way. They just easily blended into your flow, provoking little notice.

It's this ("The times everything worked out.....I was simply caring...a lot. Possibly too much. Likely to a degree the mainstream would consider odd.)
...and this ("The rewards of living life with commitment - pushing oneself to do cool things that help and/or delight people - are entirely intangible...and entirely sufficient.")
...and it grew out of this ("The cure for ennui: make life exciting for others. If you feel you're not getting your due, work to give others their's. If you feel helpless, help others. If no one understands you, show people you understand them. If you're lonely, ease others' loneliness. If you're sad, cheer people up.").

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