Ya know, I’m getting real tired of those birds I feed every morning. Bunch of ingrates. Here I go out and spend over 32 bucks for a sack of black oil sunflower seeds every month – the ones they love the most, the best for their health (high fat content) and the most expensive – and you’d think they’d be grateful. Nope! No gratitude, not even when there’s snow on the ground and they can’t find anything to eat anywhere.
I don’t expect much, really I don’t. Is it asking too much for a titmouse to occasionally land on my shoulder when I’m next to the feeder, and chirp a few thank yous into my ear? When I whistle the sounds of a Black-capped chickadee, wouldn’t you expect a few courteous replies from one of those empty-bellied, starving little avians? I mean as a show of appreciation. Nope! Never happens. And those nuthatches. Jeese, the nuthatches! I’ve never known a batch like those upside down boobies! Just a bunch of ungracious, disrespectful and inconsiderate frickin’ birds. All of ‘em! And if you think the cardinals, sparrows and woodpeckers are any better – Fohget It! In fact, they’re worse. Ya know what they do? They wait for me to leave the area around the feeder before they greedily go for the free food I’m donating. And then they fight among themselves. I’m tellin’ ya, it’s a shameless gluttonous spectacle… that I’m payin’ for. Jeesh!
Editor: Lao Du, aren’t you missing something here?
Lao Du: Yeah, I’m missing something, all right. I’m missing the word thanks from the thankless.
Editor: That’s not what I’m getting at. See, the gift of giving is actually in the giving.
Lao Du: Oh, real profound! Hey! What kinda crapola are you feedin’ me here? Whatta you Confucius or somethin’?
Editor: No, I’m serious. You should consider this. You’ve got an open mind, right?
Lao Du: Me? Of course, don’t be silly. Nobody is as open-minded as me.
Editor: Well, then listen to what I’m going to tell you about the admirable qualities and rewards that come from giving freely of money, material things, and yourself – the latter of which is a form of volunteerism. Those birds you feed – you may not be aware of this – but you actually receive plenty of benefits from them. They’re like your pets. When you see them, I know you’re less depressed and not feeling the loneliness that the pandemic has foisted upon most of us. And precisely, in an analogous way, your volunteering for Ping Pong Pong Parkinson – you’re still doing that, right?…
Lao Du: Yeah.
Editor: … that also provides you with a host of benefits that I’m sure you’re not even aware of.
Lao Du: I thought I was volunteering for PD people (PwP).
Editor: Sure, but you’re probably getting more out of it than they are.
Lao Du: How’s that?
Editor: It’s the social interaction, the companionship – it’s good for your brain. And get a load of this: There are a whole bunch of studies that report that people volunteering to help others live longer.
Lao Du: No kidding? For real?
Editor: Yes, absolutely for real. Why? I know you’re going to ask me that, so I’ll tell you: Because it gives you a raison d’etre.
Lao Du: Raisons ets?? What’s that, some kind of chocolate candy?
Editor: No, no, no! It’s English from French. It means you have a reason to exist – a purpose. You know – a life with meaning. When you help others, believe me, you are also a beneficiary.
Lao Du: What kind of fish is that?
Editor: You’ll live longer, okay? Just leave it at that. Yes, just tell all the people who volunteer to play ping pong at PPP that they’ll live longer.
Lao Du: Yeah, yeah, yeah, fine. But what am I gonna do about those frickin’ birds?