Tennesseetransitions


Pay It Forward

About 15 years ago I was standing on the front steps of the local post office, asking Michael if he had a quarter in his pocket so that I might buy a newspaper. A lady walking up the steps must’ve heard him answer “no” so she turned around, pressed a quarter into my hand and said “Pay It Forward”. I’d never heard the term, so she told me about the movie with that name and the premise behind it of helping someone without any expectation of repayment except by asking the recipient to repay the good deed. I was so touched by that simple transaction that I’ve watched the movie 3 times over the passing years and never tire of it’s theme. But lessons we learn, even profound ones like this, sometimes need to be relearned or remembered. Last Sunday my friend Gerald walked up to me at church and gave me his last container of citric acid from the bulk stash he’d bought years ago for his business. He knows I use it when canning tomatoes and other stuff. When I offered to pay him,  he replied  “Nope, just Pay It Forward“. I fell in love all over again with that idea and have thought about it repeatedly since: thanks so much for the sweet reminder Gerald!

This blog has always focused on ways that we can live healthier, more frugal and community-based lives while we strive to find ways that will allow us to become less dependent on the idea of always buying a solution to life’s everyday needs. Pay It Forward fits very nicely into a ‘living well on less’ lifestyle. I’m recommitting to the idea and am having big fun finding ways to do that. Not only does the practice help others accomplish things they might not be able to accomplish on their own, the practice of helping one another can spread geometrically through society, creating a social movement with an impact of making the world a better place. A better place! Think about that! 

The Heifer Project and Kiva micro-loans are both based on this concept, and locally, One Acre Cafe operates within the same framework-if you can afford to pay an extra dollar or so for your meal (and you can since you don’t have to tip the volunteer staff)  your extra is ‘paid forward’ to feed someone that can’t afford a meal.

One doesn’t need to make loans of money however to make the world a better place. Some of us may not have even a bit of extra money to pay forward, but the concept can be expressed in myriad ways: donating your extra garden produce to someone in need or giving a stranger’s car battery a jump come immediately to mind. Paying it forward helps me to remember the power of giving and my connection  with all living things. It helps both the giver and the recipient by adding a touch of  kindness and compassion to their days. Simply put, the unspoken message is: “I care about you”. 

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An Auspicious Beginning
August 2, 2015, 4:06 PM
Filed under: Adapting to Change | Tags: , ,

Wendell Berry, probably my favorite author, writes: “To make a living is not to make a killing, it’s to have enough“. 

I am so thankful that I have ‘enough’. At least enough of what makes life good: love, friends, good food, a house I love, and money. Does one ever have enough money? Some do, most of us don’t. I have no debt and my needs are few, so I can honestly say I do. But-here’s where it gets sticky-I’m not willing to upset my ‘enough’ cart down at the bank to take out large sums for travel. I need ‘enough’ to see me through until I’ve gone on to another life, and I’m hoping that will be another 30 or 40 years! Still, there are places I want to see and experience in this world. To that end, I’ve taken a temporary job, so that I can earn ‘enough’ to travel without upsetting that cart. I’ll start working tomorrow, on mine and Michael’s 13th wedding anniversary, and 2 days before my 62nd birthday at the International Storytelling Center in nearby Jonesborough, TN. I’ll be working August-October and my job will be to help them prepare each year for the annual Storytelling Festival which brings upwards of 10,000 people, from all over the world, to the ‘oldest town in Tennessee’. The festival is always on the first full weekend of October and since Michael and I volunteered many years running in order to earn tickets to attend, I already know that the work I’ll do for this organization will be fulfilling and a fantastic opportunity for me to continue to promote my love for this region and a way to facilitate the sense of brotherhood and peace that the storytellers manage to weave into the stories that they share. I plan to save all my earnings this year for a big trip, but that’s another story for another day.

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Why am I telling you this? Because I consider my faithful readers friends, even if we’ve never met in person. I don’t know about you, but I like to share big news with all my friends, so you’re included! I’ll be working full time Monday-Friday so during this next 3 months, I suspect my blog posts will be few and far between, but I will try to find the time occasionally to at least say hi. And because the Storytelling Center is open to the public, you are welcome to stop by any time and at least say hi to me too!

After being ‘retired’ since 2002, no doubt some of our tomatoes won’t get canned, or I’ll have to miss a meeting or two, as well as a gig here and there. Just as I encourage you to transition to the changes we’re facing in this world, now we’ll have transitions of a different kind as well; with me being gone all day, Michael will be doing most of the meal prep and house cleaning and gardening but we agree it’s a great way for us to experience some things we might not otherwise. Just like the storytellers that perform at the festival, bringing tales of their lands, customs and cultures, I suspect that visiting some of those far away places can and will broaden my own horizons and perspectives on this whole climate- changing, energy-using, food-producing world. 

So, I won’t be making a ‘killing’ as Wendell refers to it, but I will make enough to travel to a few of the exotic spots I’ve only seen on my big map. Now I’m likely not your favorite author, but many of you may know MY favorite words: “Just sayin’ “. Stay tuned!




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