My blog post about my navy corpsman buddy made me ponder something else he said in his letter to me: that what’s worth doing in life is what we do for others. He was writing in the context of saving lives on the battlefield, but his words extend through all facets of life.
The older I get, the more people I take care of. I correspond via the internet with a lonely disabled man living abroad. I write regularly to a man in prison who looks forward to receiving my letters. I look out for an older woman who would otherwise rarely get a chance to go out to dinner or events. I have lunch once a month with an older man who has little intellectual or friendly interaction.
I don’t believe any of these people think of me as their care-giver. Nor would I want them to. But I know that I provide them something they would otherwise lack, something they cherish: a friendly interlocutor.
I cherish the opportunity to do for others. The older I get, the more I see that helping others is probably the most fulfilling and satisfying thing in my life. I dispute the biblical quote (Luke 6:31): “Do unto other as you would have done unto you.” I think it should read, “Do unto others as they would have done unto them.”
I often muse that I was born to write. Writing is my life vocation. But that calling is individual. It applies only to me and others like me. Some vocations are universal. Doing for others is one of those. We are all called upon to help our brothers and sisters.
Lest I mislead you, I’m not at all religious and do not profess membership in any religion. I am, if anything, an agnostic. But I know what love is. I have loved and been loved. And I understand that giving to another is an act of love.
I know the truth of the words from 1 Corinthians 13:13: “There are but three things that last, faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”