Those Unseen Deeds

Men do not value a good deed unless it brings a reward – Ovid

As I’d mentioned a couple of weeks ago, house painters have been hard at work Chez Nous. All the indoor woodwork ( windows, doors, stairs, baseboards etc.,) was in dire need of being refreshed. And my goodness, it was long overdue. It’s surprising how easily one can get used to neglected maintenance. With the general upheaval caused by this commission, I was ready to call it all off and return to having tired, peeling joinery.

While I had been anticipating using the project as reason to declutter and spruce up the rooms, the volume of work involved kept growing. After removing items that were no longer relevant, re-organizing what remained, cleaning areas rarely reached or visible and finally putting together rooms as the painters got done, I was more than ready to sit back and bask in the new and improved abode.
And you know what? While everything appeared bright and tidy, it was impossible for anybody else to see what exactly had been done. Quite precisely like cosmetic surgery done really well.

I’d have genuinely liked an obvious, dramatic change. A ta-da! Instead, I’m left with a subtle effect and the knowledge that much effort, time and money was spent for it. On the one hand I’m enormously satisfied to have had this project completed and on the other, I’m still yearning for it all to be widely noticed and complimented. Wishful thinking.

The individual tasks are hardly ever lauded. While extremely vital, they are not acknowledged in their own right. Yet, the quality of our lives depend on a myriad such efforts. Who else but you notices the tidy, organized closets, thoughtfully stocked kitchens/bathrooms, carefully planned trips? Only you know the time spent each day in keeping home looking inviting and comfortable. The extra work hours in the office that win the company more clients. The years of volunteer service to uplift and improve the community. The long nights passed in finishing Halloween costumes/baking birthday cupcakes for school/ playing midwife to the family dog delivering six puppies a half-hour apart. How about the sacrifices in time and money just to put a smile on somebody’s face? All so integral and yet mostly unnoticed, unconsidered or taken for granted. These are not thankless efforts just unrecognised ones.

It is exactly the same in the garden. After knee grinding, back throwing, nail tearing hours of weeding, cutting back, staking, deadheading and tidying up, one is left with a garden that definitely looks well tended and could possibly elicit some praise but nothing to seriously impress anybody. No, those ‘Oohs’ and ‘Aahs’ are reserved for the showy flowers and cunningly propped up plants as though they could’ve achieved their beautiful, well-groomed state all by themselves. No one has ever given me kudos for my dedicated weeding. However, when I’m behind on that chore, I can usually count on a few ‘well-intended’ criticisms.

But, admit it. Despite not receiving the commendations we’d like for each of our accomplishments, there is still that inner glow of satisfaction that comes from knowing we did something (s) good and necessary. And that is all that matters. Our own peace with our contributions is sufficient reward. We each have a part to play and play them well we must. In the end, to paraphrase Koffka’s ‘the whole is other than the sum of its parts‘, our lives are indeed bigger and better than the sum of its parts. That, I do declare is synergy.

Reminder – My show is still on at the Ruth Keeler Memorial Library. Do go see!

I’m presenting here a bunch of feel good images. So feel good!

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(c) 2016 Shobha Vanchiswar

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