"If there’s a world here in a hundred years, it’s going to be saved by tens of millions of little things. The powers-that-be can break up any big thing they want. They can corrupt it or co-opt it from the inside, or they can attack it from the outside. But what are they going to do about 10 million little things? They break up two of them, and three more like them spring up!"
- Pete Seeger, in YES! Magazine

Monday, November 2, 2009

Feeling Uninspired - and busy - and overwhelmed

Dear Readers: I'm sorry to have fallen behind in my online reporting of my attempts at being charitable in everyday living. While I've been keeping old-fashioned, pen-and-pad notes, I haven't carved out time to blog on this site for several days because I've been inundated here with other distractions, chiefly wrapping up work on Best Family Adventures: Santa Barbara County which is due out in a matter of months. So, allow me to catch up:
As I look back at the deeds done this year, I feel underwhelmed. Some took more time than others. Most were simple daily projects. And even though some of the larger projects were done with the best intentions, there were recipients of these services who actually complained.

These little deeds, do they matter? I believe Mr. Seeger is correct, but it still takes a LOT of people doing little things to make a real difference. On my block, nothing has changed. While we bring in papers and trash cans for neighbors when they're away, ours sit out on the curb and driveway awaiting our return.

Mr. B once told me I'm too tit-for-tat. Maybe he's right. I know my expectations of people are too high, but it's hard to let go of that. Having no expectations is practically impossible, and having low expectations is just plain depressing. Still, why, if I do a favor for anyone else, should I expect anything in return? I guess I figure a simple "thank you" or a smile is a common courtesy when you've opened the door for someone, or offered a hand. I figure being neighborly is a simple gesture toward the common good in today's compact neighborhoods.
We do have some bigger projects lined up for the next few weeks, but as the holidays come upon us, and I feel more overwhelmed than ever at the obligations of adult life, I'll back off again to select simple, quick deeds over big projects.
Today's project:

Respond to players' requests for photos shot at this weekend's games. This is the last week I'll be taking photos of the team. The season is almost complete and I'd like to just sit back and watch a couple of games before it's over.

About an hour.

Why bother?
I thought it would be fun to take pictures during the girls' youth soccer games, and I thought others would enjoy some photos, too. It's a skill I can share, and in this digital age, it's easier than ever to do so.

Worth it?
For the most part, I'd say this project was worth it. Most of the families requested photos, and responded warmly to the gesture. Some parents gushed with compliments, and the coach was very happy with his year-end photo album provided by the team.

But it doesn't take much to burst my balloon. Two families actually complained about the project. One because the mother said I didn't take enough photos of her daughter. (Hint: I take action photos. If your daughter doesn't go after the ball, I'm unlikely to capture action shots of her.) The other because taking photos was "just too much work." ("Why don't you just get him a gift card?")

My mistake in this project is that I didn't ask the parents first if they'd be interested. If I do this again, which I probably will, I'll ask the parents, and avoid shots of any kids whose parents react less than enthusiastically.

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