A Tremendous Thing
One of my favorite books is Charlottes Web by E.B White. I find Charlotte to be a philosopher of the highest order. At the end of the story, the wise Charlotte says, “You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.” Our lives really are ‘something of a mess.’ People wander the world looking to untangle their lives. The allusive knots and snarls seem to be easily straightened but alas, we are continually faced with a society of discontented, materialistic, border line malicious people. So many people seem to feel the need to try any and everything to sort out their messes. People work twice as hard at their jobs, or turn to ‘religion,’ or yoga to feel the Zen that should be defining their lives. Some buy self help books, and noisily quote the tip of the day in failed attempts to cover up the helplessness their lives exhibit. Food, exercise, work, religion, abstract hobbies, money, and who knows what else, are empty nothings society try to lift up their hopelessly tangled, messy lives with. Everyone does it, from the smallest child to the oldest senior citizen, the rich, the poor, and the in betweeners, all trying rather unsuccessfully to lift up their lives.
This I believe: that Charlotte has the answer. By helping others we can lift up our lives. Life hands every person the opportunity to clean up their messy lives by helping one another. Every person needs a life lifting experience. My lifting experience came by way of the Home Work House. Originally this was a tutorial nightmare, something I was apprehensive and rather annoyed at. “I do not have the time, the transportation, and the real need or desire to tutor children who probably already know how to read anyway,” I thought. But, this embittered view quickly changed. I fell into a rhythm and began tutoring two exceptionally bright eleven year old girls. Perhaps tutoring underprivileged children sounds like a completely unselfish act, but who would have thought lifting my ‘something of a mess,’ life up would involve reading and building relationships with two fifth graders. Every week at 4:00 on Tuesdays, I journey to Hall Elementary school and sit on the floor of a cramped stuffy library, reading The Twits, or The School’s Skeleton. More importantly, I sit there and learn about Daisy’s and Monique’s lives. I share my life, and open up my problems to them. Yes, vulnerability is not my strong point, but there is something refreshing about seeing them respond to me and feeling them letting me into their lives. I try to be their friend. And they have been friends to me. That in itself is a tremendous thing.
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