Greedy or Needy?

I’ve been on a cleaning binge. It’s been helping me feel great :: Less Stuff = More Contentedness. It’s been helping me declutter and focus. …That was, until it actually came time to take all the give aways and give them away.

Usually I drive them to Goodwill (as the St. Vincent de Paul near me closed). But I fear they get so much stuff they likely just throw things away. So this time I saved myself the effort and the worry (or so I thought!) and put everything at the end of my driveway with a sign “Free Stuff” and chalk writings saying “FREE!” with arrows. Things sat there… until they didn’t.

A neighborhood dog was barking and I looked out my window in time to see one man who drove a Hummer throwing most of the items into his vehicle. My judgment of his personal appearance seemed like he possibly was needy, but his vehicle didn’t. And I shouldn’t have judged or minded but to me he was being greedy. He was taking everything (much to my husband’s delight) and I was torn. I wanted things to go to homes which could use it – and I tried to tell myself he needed those things. But it was hard. I wrestled with emotions of “He’s being greedy” versus what I envisioned of how it would go with people coming by and thinking: “Oh wow! How great! I’ll take this thing I need!” — and when people took things it would be what they really needed.

I sadly lost some sleep over this. [Maybe because I made Nora part with toys and she was so good about it and she sat at the end of the driveway and talked to the toys telling them they were going to find someone else to love them. ] It wasn’t until I talked to my mom the next day that I felt a little better. I was telling the story and calling him “The Greedy Man” and she said to call him “The Needy Man”. I scoffed. But it helped. If I thought about him in that way – with kindness – I starting to think of him as though maybe he took all the kids toys because he has kids that would love to have new toys. I know growing up I relied on the kindness of others to get nice hand-me-downs and it was always such a delight to have new things! I envisioned the joy on his kids’ faces. That helped too. Was I perfect at always thinking of him as needy instead of greedy? No. But it started to lessen my judgment of him as greedy and be at peace with it all.

Also during this time I was unfairly judging him against others who took things. I had 4 matching patio chairs – someone only took 2! Now that is taking what you need! (Which ironically got me flustered as well — take all 4 please!!!) And someone else took just one basket of 3 options. And after The Needy Man things slowly were taken, one by one. One time I saw a neighbor come by who was so excited about the rocking chair that it made me happy — that was definitely going to a home that would love it (and I have since seen someone sitting it in on their frontslab area). And it restored my faith in the niceness and kindness and thoughtfulness of people out there. Not everyone is greedy. (And yes I must remind myself once again that it’s possible the man was needy not greedy —in which case this was such a great experience even better than donating my items!) 

And so here I am. Parting was such bittersweet sorrow and also joyful. It was a kick-in-the-pants reminder that I buy too much stuff that I don’t need (so really is the greedy one me?). The world will always have those who are greedy and it will always have those who are needy — so I must focus on being a more conscientious consumer and I definitely need to focus on thinking kind thoughts of others.

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