Monday, September 14, 2009

A Day of Service

Last Friday I honored our President's request and spent the day in service--to myself. I am sure that this is not what he had in mind, since he expects all of us to be mindless servants to others. But as Homey D. Clown used to say, "I don't think so... Homey don't play dat!"

My work day began at 5:30 a.m. doing some paperwork and payroll. Unlike the parasites who depend on the government to provide their sustenance, or bail them out when they make bad decisions, I actually provide for myself. In doing so, I am serving myself.

I then met with several customers to assess their needs for the services my company provides. Some might say that I am serving others in this capacity, and in a superficial way, they are correct. Serving others is not my motivation--making money is. Serving others in this context is a mutually beneficial trade and a means for serving myself.

Upon returning to my office, I returned calls from two other customers to discuss proposals I had recently submitted. Both were ready to hire my company, not out of some sense of altruistic duty, but because my company will help satisfy their self-interest. And in helping them do so, I am serving myself.

I then took my wife to lunch. I did this for two reasons. One, we were hungry. Two, I enjoy taking my wife to lunch. We work together. She spends most of the day in the office, while I get to traipse all over the countryside meeting interesting people. I enjoy giving her a chance to get out of the office, and her enjoyment is important to me. (I hasten to add that, while I realize a 10-carat diamond ring might bring her enjoyment, I do have to draw the line somewhere.) In enhancing her enjoyment, I am serving myself. (Somewhat ironically, the restaurant we went to is a buffet, so we literally had to serve ourselves. We even joked about it at the time.)

After lunch we went to look at two prospective rental properties. We are buying rental properties, not to stimulate the economy or take advantage of those who are down on their luck, but to make money. We are doing it to build passive income, acquire equity, and provide for our retirements. We are not planning for the government to provide for us, or for our fellow citizens to serve us. We are perfectly capable of taking care of ourselves, and we will do so--we will serve ourselves.

I spent the remainder of the afternoon doing two activities I enjoy--reading and writing. I did not do this for anyone's benefit or enjoyment but mine. I would like to think that others might somehow benefit from what I learn and the subsequent writing, but that is not, and was not, my motivation. I was serving my own interests--any benefit or enjoyment others get is simply a byproduct.

My day concluded with more selfish activities--pizza and Wii bowling with my wife. In this, my last opportunity of the day to serve someone else, I was mercilessly competitive. (Not in eating the pizza, but the bowling.) I am happy to report that I was stunningly masterful at bowling. And while my wife would have certainly enjoyed winning, as I previously noted, I must draw the line somewhere.

So there you have it--my day of service. I spent it pursuing my values--both material and spiritual. I spent the day doing things I enjoy. I did not concern myself with the needs of others, because I don't expect them to concern themselves with my needs. I engaged in trades that were mutually beneficial to all involved--my customers, the restaurant, and my wife. I spent the day serving my life.

Of course, I spend every day in a similar fashion. The details vary, but the principle does not. I spend every day in service--to myself.

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