Friday, September 19, 2014

Buying Flowers for My Wife

I asked my neighbor when you should buy flowers for your wife and he said, “Anytime.” Then I asked if you should get her flowers because you wanted something or because you were bad. “No,” he said.

I knew an artist who bought jewelry for his wife because she posed for his paintings. That seemed a little bit tit for tat (or visa versa).

I'm not too good with gifts. My parents didn't get it. They would insist that they gave me everything that I needed, so why should I need anything else?

And I think of Milton Friedman’s diagram about how we spent money most wisely when it is our money spent on ourselves, and least wisely when it is a third party’s money spent on someone else. I would get a number of presents from my in-laws that were things I didn't need. I’d then spend a copy of days after Christmas returning things. Somehow they got wind of this so they just give cash that I appreciated more.

No wonder my grandkids call me Grandpa No Fun.

I asked my wife when I should buy her flowers. I wanted to be sure it would not seem like prostitution. (I've been watching the evil Tony Soprano lately and my mind is going “to hell in a hand basket,” as my mom would say.

Anyway, my wife said I could “just” buy her flowers someday. I really surprised her today by doing that, though I have to admit that I was trying a little bit to appease her because she said she gets mad at me all day when I go to bed so late (which I often do).

Is there any pure generosity, with no thought of any gain? One of my Zen teachers speak of giver, gift and receiver all being one. I really like this. If I'm stuck in the idea of one person giving a gift to another then I'm always going to be having thoughts of gain and loss. But if I get pass that and see the giver, gift and receiver of all being inexorably interconnected, then giving is purer. Or, as I see Mother Teresa, she gave because giving needed to be done. In one of the chants at the Zen center, there is the line “The four elements return to their natures just as a child turns to its mother….” Ideally there is no gaining thought in those situations. Our compassion tells us what needs to be done.

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