Tag Archives: the girl

Lent 2012: Day 31

Lent is about sacrifice, and a significant part of our everyday reality is sacrifice in the form of delayed gratification, when we sacrifice the immediate satisfaction of our desires for some further, greater good. For example, we could buy that new camera lens we want (and I have been drooling over Nikon’s 17-55 2.8 for some time) on credit and have immediate gratification; delaying said gratification by saving for the lens (and at $1,500, that particular lens would take quite a bit of saving of my personal spending money) means not racking up unnecessary debt that could hurt us in the long run. So we delay gratification for a good that is even further in the distance, and in this case, hypothetical. But the immediate price is a sacrifice of potential joy.

The Girl has been saving for a Barbie camper for months now. Granted, it only began a little before Christmas, but five-year-old time is like dog-years: it’s all relative. She gets a little cash here and there, from us and her grandparents, and this week, she made it: $70, the Wal-Mart website price.

So this evening, we went to Wally-world to buy it, only to find the price there was $94. I took it to customer service to inquire about the justification for the price difference. It turned out, they were aware of it — and they did nothing about it.

“We’ll price-match with a competitor…” began the customer service rep.

“But not with yourself,” I finished.

“Right. Not even store to store.”

I sensed a crisis brewing, but the Girl handled it marvelously: a few whimpers of disappointment but nothing significant.

Back home, we shopped around and found it on sale for $50. And now the Girl has a good start on her savings for a Barbie house — and a lesson learned about delayed gratification.

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Lent 2012: Day 28

Conversation often turns into an excuse to discuss oneself, and talking with someone who seems to have a knack for turning the conversation back to himself is exhausting.

The unselfishness of speedily and gracefully distracting ourselves from self is also singularly difficult to practice.

Yet it’s somehow a natural conversational occurrence. Whether it’s a sincere desire to help someone by sharing a similar experience or an unconscious competitive streak, we hear a story and we want to add something from our own lives into the mix. Resisting this urge is critical for what Faber calls “kind listening. But like many other kindnesses, it involves a degree of self-sacrifice.

I think of the Girl dating at some point in the future — within the next, say, 25-30 years — and one of my most deeply held requirements (as if I’d have any say) for any young man interested in her would be that he show the ability to listen. It’s a rare gift these days, and I fear it will be rarer still when the time comes.

The quoted excerpt is from Father Frederick Faber’s Spiritual Conferences, excerpted here.

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In Thought

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The Girl looks more and more like a young lady and less and less like a baby every day.

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