The Last Whopper

When my wife, the mother of my children (though technically known as my step children), and I first started dating, my son Taylor, and I, were testing the boundaries of our new relationship.  I sat on the couch next to him and watched him slowly eating a handful of Whoppers, which are chocolate covered malted milk balls. I asked each time he raised a candy to his mouth, if he was going to finish that. He smiled a sly grin and said, “You want one?”, and I responded with an excited, “Yes”.

After each question and response, he ate the candy, and smiled that same sly grin. Which was amusing. He was around eleven years old. I was certain he was not going to give me a Whopper, but I kept asking just before he took a bite of each one. Then it came to the last bite. This is where the story would be awesome, or have a different meaning, if Taylor had offered me the candy, and I had refused, and we could speak of how we were able to share things that day. We might talk about how it was great that he was willing to offer me the last piece, or we could celebrate the virtues of such a young, giving soul. As it turns out, I like the actual story more.

Taylor did ask me one last time, if I wanted the last morsel. I let him know that I would like if very much. He extended the candy to me. Just as I reached to grab it, he placed the Whopper in his mouth and pulled it back out, offering it to me again. Knowing that this was in some way a  moment that might set the tone for our future relationship, and knowing that he probably did not have anything a shot of penicillin would not cure, I took the Whopper, put it in my mouth, and told him how much I enjoyed it. I also made a big deal about how much I appreciated him sharing. We still, to this day, have a running, “Whopper” joke.

This put me in mind, oddly enough, of what religious people call tithing. To me, tithing is an obligation leaders would like for you to have, which compels you to give your first ten percent of income to God. Most proponents of this system of giving to the Creator, are even willing to take that ten percent and make sure it gets to its proper place. It seems odd to me, that protestant Christianity, which adamantly denies the need a high priest to absolve sin, perpetuates the myth that we need an investment banker or broker to determine how our money will best be spent for the Divine. But even this, is not my point.

We should give to God, but not for God. To others, but not for others. Every act of kindness or charity is also an act of receiving for ourselves. It is a vicious and clever cycle, that we receive more when we give more. Not just money, but time, energy, thoughts, prayers or good intentions, and even small considerations like holding a door, letting someone in on the freeway, or smiling out of kindness when no kindness is deserved. But what of the “first” ten percent. If there is karma, if there is justice, or if there is a reward for our giving, it seems it would be increased by giving our “last” ten percent.

Whether it be a Whopper, or anything else. If I am in a great mood in the morning, a smile to an ungracious stranger it means little. After a rough day, when I do not feel much like smiling at anything, the smile might mean more. If I was running late, would it not mean more for me to let someone in traffic? Thinking they might be in a hurry to see a loved one that has been injured, or even that they are just rude and inconsiderate, and had just flown passed a whole line of traffic that had waited their turn? And what of money? If, on the way to grab a coffee with my last two dollars, or four dollars if we are going to Starbucks, I encountered someone my spirit was telling me needed the money more than I needed a coffee, would it not be more impressive to the Universe if I gave that money away?

As a former smoker, I can only use this example to show the importance of the first and last thing in our possession. If a good friend asked me for a cigarette back in the day, it was customary and expected, that I would open my pack, determine how many I had, and we would both decide together if I could afford to give up a cigarette. Some of my friends started carrying a pack in one pocket to smoke, and a pack in the other pocket with only one cigarette to show those who asked for a cigarette as a clever way not to share. We all know the last M&M, the last glass of milk in a jug, or the last cashew in a can, makes us stop and enjoy it a little more.

If we are going to give our best, then it seems to me, that we would give our last, not our first “fruits”, as it were. In a harvest on a farm, it makes sense, in this world of abundance, it does not. When we have mastered the art of giving, we will not know which is first, or last, or in between. But to get there, we must be ready to give our last more than our first. Most of what I write in the way of advice is simply that, advice. Most of what I write is selfishly me working out a thought or plan for my future, that with hope, might help others as well. I have not mastered this concept. For what it is worth, I am not admonishing anyone to give anything, to anyone, unless it is a directive from the Inner Self, which is where I believe, Jesus said the Kingdom of God could be found. “Within”… he said so many things.

What I can tell you is this. Regardless of what you give, how you give, or when you give, you are sharing yourself with the world. And the “you” that is you, is worth sharing. The gift is not the blessing for the receiver. The blessing comes from someone taking the time to notice them. To care, even if just for a moment, for them. That someone, in some instances, will be you, and you will also be blessed by giving. Treat those who you are giving to, as a person or project, that has afforded you the opportunity to be blessed. Be excited today. Share yourself with the world today. You will make the world better by taking part in the activity of the world today. It is not all up to you, but it is potentially great because of you.

As another note, even if on that day I had virus or infection, that took months to recover from, it would have been so completely worth it, just to see the reaction on the face of that eleven year old, red headed, Whopper eating kid. Who, also, happens to have grown up to be, a fine young man in his own right. He has since offered me the first, middle, and last, of any meal or drink I might need or he suspects I might like. And that, to me, is the good stuff.

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