During my many Friday night adventures with Labre over the summer, I met and conversed with a couple who I’ll call Rose and George.
Rose and George were living in a tent behind an abandoned house in the eastern part of the Cleveland suburbs. They were in better condition than some of the unhoused (a term I prefer over ‘homeless’) who lived in Cleveland, but they were far from living even close to the poverty line.
Rose and George had saved a small kitten that almost got ran over on a busy street close to their campground. George had sprinted and rescued the cat (“I thought he was one of those track stars!” Rose chuckled). The two took the kitten in and, after a few weeks, Babygirl the kitten looked healthy and now had a residence.
While explaining to me the different things Babygirl did, George said, “This was the least we could do. So many people do things for us. They feed us, give us clothes and hygiene, so the least we could do was help this kitten.”
Suddenly, the world seemed to give way as my mind seemed to implode at the sheer force of George’s words. The fact that Rose and George couldn’t take care of themselves in some respects, but yet sacrificed their resources for a small kitten was very touching.
I have always been one to appreciate and demonstrate the art of sacrifice. For some reason, the word ‘sacrifice’ reminds me of the ancient Aztec rituals, as if I was cutting off a limb for friends and family. But, in reality, I would take the next step for folks around me. I would complete tasks that others could do for themselves simply because I was the ‘yes man.’ I sacrifice my time and energy for all the things I love, and sometimes I feel incredibly taxed.
Looking back on my hard work ethic, I’d have to say my parents gave me the best of their work ethics. My father is a racehorse, who works upwards of eighty hours a week across jobs and engagements. My mother’s belief is that everything must be done on time and done to perfection, or else you ruin the integrity of the work. With my father’s stamina and my mother’s mentality, I’ve become the wolf hungry for the kill. That is, I’ve never been satisfied with being bored or only doing minimal work on a project I was assigned or not assigned to do.
On top of my work commitments and extra-curricular commitments, I give myself down-time projects. For instance, I love creative writing. I’ve been working on a series that will eventually be thirty novels (I’m currently writing installment Eighteen). Nobody is telling me to write, and nobody needs to. I could probably live all my life without having to share those stories and all the other pieces I’ve written. It makes me happy. I do it to read my thoughts and to let them escape my mind.
But Rose and George’s version of sacrifice goes against my initial understanding. Sacrifice isn’t about cutting something from yourself. It’s not something that is necessarily quantitative. Sacrifice isn’t aimed at yourself, but at others. It’s taking responsibility for something because responsibility needs to be taken. Rose and George taught me that even when you have nothing you can still give something.
Since then, I’ve reflected on my extremity in my life-to-life situations. I realize I do what I love not just for my own personal gain, but for the people it effects. I work hard in the television studio so that people have a good time and get to learn all the facets of the job. I work hard with SUPB to provide the best programs and events at the school. I work hard in the radio station. Well, maybe that’s more of a personal interest!
I spent the summer of 2014 working 60 hours a week, visiting Wal-Mart for cheap groceries and falling asleep with my roommates on the couch of our Silsby house. But my adventures and reflections through Labre carry me through the fall of 2014 and the rest of my life.