A practical example of what I wrote yesterday came to the fore in the kitchen this morning. Melody asked if I got sandwich bags at the grocery store. I said, “No, I forgot. I got them for my office, but not for the house.” Then I decided to add, “I was looking out for Numero Uno.”
I’ve said that to my family more than once. I’m half joking. I’m not sure they get me, and I don’t strain to explain myself. My actions speak louder than my words to them, I think. My family knows that I give them everything. I have given my soul to them and thrown my last literal dollar toward their welfare. And yet when it is obvious to them that I’ve done something for the Z-Man first, I play it. I play the part of the quintessential cad and chant the mantra of the eon: “Looking out for Number One.”
And yet it’s a scriptural concept: “Love others according as you love yourself.” If you do not love yourself first, you cannot love others. If you do not take care of yourself first, you cannot take care of others. Loving and taking care of oneself is not an end (that’s the world’s concept) but a means to an end, namely, doing the same thing for others.
Not many people grasp this. In the interest of “selflessness,” people lose their peace, their minds, their spouses, their kids. By working tireless for others at the expense of their own happiness, the so-called “superperson” harms instead of heals. When you have too much to do and not enough time for it, you yell. When you desperately need rest but never get to bed on time, you cry. When your own health fails because you live for the health of others, you die. Screamers, weepers and dead people—these we do not need. Might I suggest: 1) disappoint at least three non-family members four times a week, 2) go to bed before nine thirty on a nightly basis, and 3) rise before the sun and take a long walk.
When the sun comes up, then for God’s sake, 4) buy sandwich bags.
© 2006 by Martin Zender