No such thing as a free lunch

There is no free lunch. Unless we supply it.

Here’s the worst possible thing we can do TO (I don’t say FOR) people we refer to as “friends”: give them something they need, and then take it away. This happens more often than you might think.

Once, someone I knew had a little extra unused office space, and he said I could use it. (I needed some at the time.) I was so excited, I posted my gratitude on Facebook. The next day, he took his “gift” back, saying he could see “nothing good” coming out of being mentioned on Facebook. One day of sheer joy was all I got. That is something that falls under the category “better off never having it at all.”

OK. There is an argument that I brought it on with the Facebook thing. But he never said “don’t say anything about this.” Or “keep this arrangement quiet.” Or “be discreet.” Any of those would’ve worked. He had an expectation and didn’t communicate it. And I can never trust the guy again because of it.

Here’s where I made my real mistake: I’d forgotten that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. When others do you a turn, they always expect something for it. You have to learn to expect this. So do I. This isn’t me being negative. This is the fact that we’re human. It’s built into us to exchange. Pure giving is really hard, even when we have much to spare.

And here’s another mistake we make: because there’s no free lunch, we have to become more generous. We have to become the exception to the rule. We have to give, expecting nothing in return. We have to be like Gandhi says, “the change we want to see in the world.” We have to do like Jesus says, “unto others as we would have others do unto us.” And we have to be the change before it happens anywhere else. And we have to do unto others in advance of what they do. And we haven’t done it yet, and this is why we’re alone.

It’s hard, yeah. Do it anyway.


~ by Ron Graham on September 27, 2010.

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