Living and Giving

The Classic Pamela Positive: Philanthropy at the Dry Cleaners

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I’ve shared before about philanthropy as “the love of people,” as a daily practice.

 

One day I had a pivotal experience that helped me be a better ‘daily philanthropist.’  Each day, I make a ‘to do’ list. The list might range from contacting a corporate client, to running an errand at the dry cleaners. Checking off these items certainly gave me a nice sense of satisfaction!

 

During this day, I found myself particularly busy. I rushed into the dry cleaners. I swooped in to pick up my clothes and left a bundle of clothes on the counter. “There!” I told myself triumphantly. “I fit in the dry cleaners before a meeting. I have gotten one more item off my list!” Accomplishment, I thought; and yet I didn’t feel it.

 

 

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What I realized is that the dry cleaners wasn’t an errand.

 

No, it was not a ‘to-do.’

 

It was an opportunity to love.

 

 

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Life is not about lists. We aren’t programmed to just get things done. Instead, each activity, each to-do, each task, is actually an experience of loving. This is especially true because each experience usually means interacting with someone else. And when we do this in a calm, present, joyful way, that’s living. And it’s also the true spirit of philanthropy. Loving and being present with others, with mankind.

 

As one great thinker wrote, a person

 

“… is a marvel, a miracle in the universe… With selfless love, he inscribes on the heart of humanity and transcribes on the page of reality the living, palpable presence – the might and majesty! – of all goodness. He lives for all mankind.”*

– Mary Baker Eddy

 

Rushing in and out of the dry cleaners, I had missed a valuable opportunity. What I needed to do was connect with my dry cleaners, know them by name, greet them warmly, and sincerely ask how they are doing. Now I know how Hao is doing, and we have a great relationship of warmth and kindness.  I look forward to our visits.

 

 

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Writing a check is only one type of philanthropy. I’ve found that it exists at the dry cleaners, and pretty much anywhere we want.  Where does it exist for you?