pay it forward (but to yourself)


Sistene ChapelFirst you’ve got to help yourself. Take the log out of your own eye, or whatever it says in the Bible. Put on your own airplane inflation device before assisting those around you. And so on.

One of my favourite stories is this one. One night my brother got home, very drunk, having walked quite a long way home from town. When he woke up in the morning there was a note by his bed, which said:

to sober James

from drunk James

And next to the bed was a oil-soaked brown paper bag full of cold takeaways. Chips and a burger or something.

Probably it was the last thing he felt like eating (although I would bet real money that he wound up eating it in the end, knowing him), but what a glorious act of foresight and consideration! He paid it forward to himself.

I don’t pay it forward to myself very much. Not in a conscious get out my diary and plan it kind of way. I don’t hide $20 dollar notes in the pockets of my winter coats as a surprise when the next winter rolls around (although I do hide spare house keys and lose them), mainly because there is always something better to do with the $20 note at the time.

Sometimes, usually when I’ve got a very early flight, usually for work, I will arrange my outfit and set it out neatly ready for the morning, the way mum made us when we were little. 

(Christ – the little white ankle socks and pleated tartan dress with tie attached, and the stupid white hat with the elastic the boys used to ping on the bus from Mangere Bridge…  the ensemble comes back to me just like it was yesterday. And actually – years later – I have come to know the woman who designed that very school uniform. I must say she is a very stylish human being. And I mean that with no sarcasm.)

Or, we’ll have a dinner party that goes late. Glasses get smashed and there’s stuff everywhere but we (and when I say we I mostly don’t mean me, but it still counts…) tidy up anyway. And when we wake up the birds are singing and the house is pristine, the hangover is remarkably respectable and there’s nothing to do but fun things and weekend idling.

I might pay it forward to myself tonight by having an early night. Or I most likely will subtract it from myself and not.

It is raining hard. The world is shaky. Today Sylvie brought me a red tin ladybird. Now Baxter chases scraps of paper  and a rubber band across the kitchen floor. Tomorrow is Friday. Big hair day. I am listening to Wah Wah, a collaboration by James (not my brother) and Brian Eno.

I have made a bit of a mess with paper and glue tonight, but I am going to pay it forward and tidy up before bed (also, I get in trouble if I don’t which is as much my motivation as the individual karma thing).

Earlier tonight I accidentally (well I didn’t realise it was an accident until after I did it) Google-imaged ‘naked lady’ instead of ‘reclining nude’. Let me tell you, it may all just be hair-splitting and semantics, but the search results didn’t seem to think so. Anyway, that is beside the point.


One Response to “pay it forward (but to yourself)”

  1. It was chocolate milk, salt and vinegar chips and a cookie. Take-away sounds awful, and it had to have been purchased close to home as I don’t have the requisite level of will-power to not feast on the greasy warmth of hot chips. Not. Even. Close.

    Although one-time, I woke up with about 13 dollars of Burger King strewn through the bed, (during the phase when everytime I got home from town intoxicated I would try and watch ‘The Lost World’ and fall asleep before the first T-Rex appeared. It was quite a long phase) and attempted to eat a BK Chicken burger cold. It was an unrequited disaster, and I was promptly ill.

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