“If You Don’t Have Charity in Your Heart…”
I once heard famous comedian and philanthropist Bob Hope speak this line at a USO Show so many moons ago, “If you haven’t got charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.”
Charity and giving back to my community whether I was living in the Tampa Bay community or in Seattle has always been at the core of my personality. I am that guy who actually rolls down the window and gives my last dollar out of my wallet to someone in need. You want to say it was the way you were brought up, or those Sunday School verses and stories finally clicked within your subconscious.
The reality is that all my life I have been extremely lucky and not had to worry for much. Even as I am now entering my third year of full-time unemployment, with my retire fund raided and bare like Mother Hubbard’s cupboard, I still give of myself whenever possible. Some call it “paying it forward”, other just know it as treating my fellow man as I want to be treated.
I have decided that over the course of the next week, I am going to try and relay a few stories of inspiration and charity between the Tampa Bay community and people who hail from this region. Some are great stories that you might never hear if not for this small voice of mine. While others have been broadcasted in their regions and might have slipped your ears.
Charity to me is not a “hand out” or even a “hand up”, it is the sign that we respect humanity and want to show our compassion or unity for a cause or ideal. In a span of 14 days I will have volunteered for two different Major League Baseball player’s charity golf tournaments, plus another local human interest fundraiser.
Maybe a bit of my parents did rub off on me to want to give of myself like this, but the reality is that I am only a sliver away from some of this same charity being thrust upon me. Possibly it is that stark reality that I have been to the top of the mountain in my field and also been tossed into the pits of despair that the sheer act of charity resonates with me so loud and clear.
Once I was in the same position as so many MLB players that I was able to give generously and without regard, but now my services are all that I have to volunteer. Heck, I know a few people with the Tampa Bay Rays who I have pestered and annoyed over the years letting them know I am available 24/7/365 right now to help in any venture, event or even just lend a hand when needed.
Some of those responses have been “Thank you, but we have it handled“, while others have opened their arms and let me do what I do best…work up a sweat and give until I am tired. But like I said in a Tweet this week, “I am tired, but it is a good tired”.
The reason for this post today is that the NFL’s championship game, the Super Bowl, is always a visually reminder that Spring and baseball are just beyond the horizon. Pitchers and Catchers will take the field in less than 10 days and our thoughts will pull towards the game and not those less fortunate. That is why I hope and wish that all of us can take a moment out in the next 10 days to provide an inspiration, a great smile or even some hard work towards helping someone else.
As I have grown older the art of charity and giving has become more focused in my life. Called it the wisdom and sage advice of an advancing human, or simple just the ramblings of a closet hopeless romantic, but I do not have to “go Green” to give back to this Earth. I just have to cherish those who also walk along with us on this journey. So let me get back off this soapbox, park myself back in front of this laptop and begin to think of ways to make all of you want to travel the path I will over the next 10 days.
Bob Hope was wise man. There has to be a balance within ourselves of charity and humility for us to grow, mature and even have the respect and admiration of the masses MLB players can give a percentage of their yearly salaries, but those who are not working, or even homeless can only give of themselves. Since I began with a quote, maybe I should end with another quote that resonates through me daily:
“The life of a man consists not in seeing visions and in dreaming dreams, but in active charity and in willing service. ” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.