It’s hard to believe, but at one time I was so distrustful of others and their motives that I would not accepts gifts or acts of kindness from people because of suspicions about their motives. Due to this and other things in my life I decided to try the life of a hermit and moved to a primitive location where I had to draw water by hand, bathe in the river, sleep in a tent, etc. Eventually I had a small shack with a wood stove, and found a weekend gig playing guitar. Finally! I didn’t have to depend on anyone but myself! In my twisted frame of mind it seemed like I was becoming more spiritual because of all this isolation.
It would seem that God had other ideas. I developed an abscess on my back. It was in the middle of my upper back right between the shoulder blades. Although I tried to ignore it, but the thing grew to the size of a grapefruit and became horribly infected. Finally I had to go to the VA Hospital and have it taken care of.
The plan was to have it taken care of, then return to my isolated existence, but that didn’t happen.
You see, the doctor Left the wound open and packed it with a sanitized cloth soaked in Iodine and every day the cloth had to be replaced … for 10 days. At home I tried every conceivable way to use mirrors and clean it myself, but to no avail.
In the end I went through the most humiliating, humbling and educational 10 days of my life. The only thing I could think of was to ask the nurses at the local nursing home if they would kindly help me. There wasn’t enough money to even offer token payment for the service. This thing was stinky and it was a nasty job. I hated to ask but was desperate.
To my surprise, they were more than happy to help. Not sure why, but it seemed like every time I went there was a different nurse and each one was helpful.
This experience restored my faith in humanity and eventually I returned to a more normal lifestyle.
There were a lot of lessons learned during that time, but for this article the big one was that I needed to learn how to graciously accept gifts. I have always enjoyed doing nice things for others, but was depriving them of the opportunity to feel the same.
In the years since then I have been amazed at the kindness and generosity of people. Instead of trying to figure out what I can do to repay, now I smile and give an enthusiastic “thank you.” If there comes a time in the future to do something nice for them, I will… but no longer do I keep ‘score’.