Monday, 5 September 2016

The Selfish Gene

This may not be exactly what Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene is all about but there’s certainly a connection between ‘Doing Good Makes One Feel Good’ and the survival instinct of genes, that is the survival of the most selfish and therefore fittest genes.

I’ve been in one of these spells of ‘why blog - who could possibly be interested in my throw-away drivel’,  followed, a bit later, by ‘if it gives me pleasure to blog, who cares if anyone else wants to read said drivel’.

That’s me being pensive - via a selfie. (selfish selfie?)

Anyway, to repeat, why blog. Do you blog because it gives you pleasure, whatever it is you write about, even it it’s purely self-centred? Can the general kind of blogging, the kind I indulge in and most of you, whose blogs I read, be anything else but self-centred?

Is there a kind of blogging which benefits others?
Perhaps blogging is a pure form of selfish altruism, after all, it benefits ourselves most of all.

Very well then, I’ll do some ‘blowing my own trumpet’ blogging,  having decided once again to take up recording my drivel.

I have been kind on several occasions recently. Only once entirely without an ulterior motive. I had no choice, really. Unlinking a shopping trolley at Aldi’s I noticed a woman rushing past me. She’d obviously just returned her own trolley and was on the way back to her car. I noticed her for two reasons, one she was wearing a bright orangey skirt and two, she was swinging her hips rhythmically at speed, clearly in a great hurry. Having stared at her for a moment I turned my attention back to the row of trolleys; on one of them sat a tan leather handbag (purse to you over the pond), well scuffed and filled to bursting. I grabbed the bag and asked various ladies occupied with their own trolleys if they were the owner of the bag. All of them shook their heads. I kept hold of the bag, I wasn’t going to make the same mistake I had made several years ago in the London Underground, when I found a well-stuffed wallet on the floor, asked the young man in the seat opposite if he had lost it, was told ‘no’ but instantly informed that he was getting off at the next stop and would hand the wallet in for me. Like a fool I handed it over. As he ran out I realised that  no way would he hand in that wallet to Lost Property or a station guard. I just hope he stole no more than the cash and returned the rest. Probably not.

No, I wasn’t going to make that mistake again, I would hand in the purse myself, to a supervisor in the store. I went up the aisle and saw the woman in the orangey skirt harangue a uniformed member of Aldi’s staff. As I came nearer I heard “but it must have been found in the shop, I haven’t been anywhere else. Are you sure it wasn’t handed in?”
Orangey skirt lady had a high, angry, scared colour. She saw me loitering, and glared at me, ready to accuse me and anyone else within reach of theft. The member of staff was upset too. “No, I’m afraid no bag has been handed in; I can make enquiries, of course. Have the shop searched.”

Aha, orangey skirt lady was bag lady!

I went closer and brought forth the bag with a dramatic flourish from behind my back. No fanfare, just an accusatory “there’s my bag, where did you find it?” Member of staff joined  in the chorus. “Yes, where did you find that?” And, turning to bag lady in orangey skirt “Do you want to check it?”

What? I am handing in a lost bag and my credentials need checking?

Both of them saw my thunderous look and both withdrew. Orangey skirt bag lady finally calmed herself, hands still shaking, and after giving further action due consideration - you could see her weighing up the pros and cons of checking me out v. thanking me, she decided to trust me and fell upon my neck in a short but powerful hug. Finally, I got my “Thank You”.

Isn’t it strange that the two women's first reaction was to suspect me of evil-doing?

This post is now long enough, recording the next act of kindness will have to be postponed. Until next time.


  1. I shall look forward to it! Thank you for sharing the selfie.

  2. Yes, thank you for this, and the selfie as well. You do wonder what goes on in people's heads, but you made it clear when you said her hands were shaking that she was just scared. As I would have been, too, but I would have immediately flung myself upon your neck with gratitude! :-)

  3. What an unusual reaction to having one's lost bag presented. I blog because I'm selfish. I like to take pictures, to write and to read comments. I don't think it's of any benefit to anyone, but I hope that my words are pleasant and at times, thought-provoking.

  4. People can be quite irrational when in a mad panic and sometimes disappointing in their reactions, whereas you did exactly the right thing and you know you did the right thing and so can feel a good deal of self satisfaction. My English 'sister in law' and her friend were visiting us and returned after being out at the local shops and realised they had lost a wallet. They went straight to the nearby police station where a lass was in the process of handing the wallet in. Imagine two almost hysterical 50 year old Geordie womean embracing the girl, trying to force money on her accompanied by much shrieking of the curious word 'eee'.

  5. Hi. I ALWAYS enjoy your posts. Perish the thought that you might think you are selfish. You are sharing your life experiences, and by doing so you are enriching the lives of others. Consider your blogging an "act of kindness."
    It is. On the subject of lost wallets--- several years ago I left my beautiful leather, hand tooled wallet in a "trolley" at Home Depot. More than a week later the doorbell rang. The person who found my wallet delivered it to my door! More recently, I left a wallet at Sam's. Somebody did turn it in. There is still some honesty in the world. That is a good thing for an old, scatterbrained person like me! Please keep posting.

    1. I wonder if there's any correlation between honesty and age.

  6. I guess she might wanted to check it in case anything was taken before you found it. I have occasionally found empty wallets and purses.

  7. I am glad that you have decided to continue blogging. I always look forward to your posts.
    And I am very glad that Ms Orangey Skirt managed to get over her panic and thank you.
    A few years ago I left my wallet on a bus. The bus driver handed it in, and someone was kind enough to not only track me down but to bring it to my home. I bought the driver and the deliverer lottery tickets. I was very grateful - for both the return of the money and because I didn't have to go through the ordeal of getting cards cancelled and re-issued.

  8. That is too bad that both were immediately suspicious. I blame everything that is not kind these days on Trump's attitude in his campaign. I know that is wrong and silly, but it makes me feel better. I must tell you some day about my finding lots of money in the store!!

  9. By the way, I find you life below the castle most entertaining and well written and I do not find it drivel. My stuff on the other hand...but I will keep writing anyway.

  10. "...recording the next act of kindness will have to be postponed." Says it all. You did good, Friko. When I gardened public places for a living, I always took abandoned purses and wallets to Lost And Found Desks --AND let the clerks know and note how much money was in them. Offhand, I recall a foreign-immigrant teenager, whose lost wallet contained quite a LOT of cash because he did his parent's banking for them, brought a reward of pastries to my fieldhouse at 6 a.m. Yes, these are acts of honesty and compassion, but there is a further reward of self-kindness --very necessary for feeling good about oneself. Your post reminds me of my own reason for blogging in retirement, to enjoy the company of good minds, yours included. That too is self-compassion.

  11. Please keep blogging and don't wonder/worry why.

  12. Well, I go backwards in my comment. I guess that the orange skirt lady was freaked out and not reacting logically. She was very, very fortunate that it was you, dear Friko, that found her bag. (We New Yorkers do call them bags, or totes...don't hear much purse-speak.)

    I started blogging for the opportunity it gave me (and still does) to connect with folks who live far away, not always in big cities like I do...and yet have many similar interests, life experiences and curiosity about what's going on. You already know how glad I am to have met you. Thanks for the self portrait photo, too. xo

  13. I'm not sure why we blog, but you certainly have me waiting for your next post!

  14. Human nature is a fascinating thing. You paint a magnificently detailed picture of the behavior of each individual. Most of all, I can just picture your flourish as you produced the handbag!

  15. Nice to see your selfie! And glad you're blogging again.

  16. oh please continue blogging. i long for the days before Facebook when we writers and poets and photographers and artists shared and connected as only the blogs can do.

    i have a similar story. every morning around 6 am i would walk my dog and i would put my elderly neighbors' newspaper on their door step instead of far away on the sidewalk where it had been tossed. one morning i tossed it as i always did and it somehow shattered their glass door. i almost just ran past. but i went back home, got a broom and cleaned up the mess. i left a note explaining i had broken the glass in the delivery of the newspaper and i would come by later that day to pay for the repair.

    my neighbor was not happy with me. she forbade me to touch her newspaper again. she was never the same with me….

    and i had felt like an angel placing her paper for her….


  17. The woman was probably just so upset at the prospect of not getting back her bag that she wasn't thinking clearly. Well, she must have been not thinking clearly in the first place; even in the worst kind of hurry, her bag should be the first thing she grabs, not the last!

    As for this bit in your post: "I’ve been in one of these spells of ‘why blog - who could possibly be interested in my throw-away drivel’, followed, a bit later, by ‘if it gives me pleasure to blog, who cares if anyone else wants to read said drivel’." ...
    Each and every one of your posts receives such a large number of comments that you can't possibly think nobody wants to read what you class as "drivel"! How many more readers and comments does it take to convince you of being a good writer?

  18. Hi Friko - most certainly please don't stop blogging ... I love reading your words and hearing your voice through each paragraph. Librarian (above) sets it out very well - we enjoy your writing and ability to get us to think in different directions.

    It's interesting about how often we're on the defensive, or looked at askance ... I guess if you'd wandered in swinging the bag - you'd have been accused of stealing it ... good story though - and your London tube one ... sadly I can believe that.

    Cheers and take care - Hilary

  19. Alas, I have held that panic in my hands, both as the finder and as the loser - both had good outcomes, with purses in tact. Well done, Friko, and don't mean just the purse, but, your unique slant on life with your blog. I hope you keep on writing here.

  20. well, yes of course you should continue blogging. as long as you enjoy it and it's not a chore. I for one would like to continue reading about your life and things you think about.

    I am astonished at the two women's reaction to you showing up to turn in the purse. if you were going to steal something out of it it is doubtful you would bother to turn it in. just shows how suspicious humans have become.

  21. Humans are naturally self-centered. They're also ready to cling to and defend whatever they love with ferocity. Yes, some are more in love with purses or cars or land or grandmother's necklace than human beings. That's their right, I guess. We are all selfish and love selfishly. It seems that only a few of us humans can also truly love universally. But thank goodness they always seem to be around. :)

    I blog to communicate. My blog is my selfish, private letter to the world, I guess. You hit it off with some pen pals and not with others. Family--they can take you or leave you, too. But the few good friends you make...they are priceless. Connecting soul to soul is something I do not take for granted. But, yes--I selfishly write about what I love. With abandon. :) :)

    (And I read what I love, too--so don't stop writing!)

  22. Hi Friko! Putting in my 2 cents worth here. I blog because it helps me to write out my thoughts and get them out of my head. No other reason that I'm aware of. Have been doing it since very young... of course back then it was in a journal... not online. but it's nice to get comments. That's kind of a boon as it shows that somebody actually read what I wrote.
    And on the other hand, I like to read blogs (yours included) and get a glimpse into other people's lives.

  23. It would be lovely to live in a world where everyone behaved well all the time but ...
    Lost bag woman was probably going into a self-denigrating meltdown , which resulted in her lack of grace . One hopes she's now embarrassed .

  24. I enjoy blogging because I enjoy writing and because it forces me to focus my thoughts as a diarist. I've also met some interesting people, one of whom I miss terribly since she passed away. My post entitled, "A Good Day," has more information on the American creation known as tomato soup cake, which dates from the Depression-era. Always nice to hear from you.

  25. I know own of a recent act of kindness on your part. I doubt you'll write it but it meant a lot to the recipient.

  26. I blog for the relationships it allows me to create with other bloggers. I believe we all benefit from sharing our lives creatively. It's a win-win!
    Too bad that lady was so upset that her first instinct was to attack you. I'm glad that the situation ended well.

  27. I began blogging in hopes of attracting readers to my books but found I enjoy it as a pastime and as a journal. And I love the virtual friendships that come with blogging as well as the peeks into other lives.

  28. I like to think survival and evolution depend more on cooperation than selfishness and my facebook feed of an endless stream of cute animals bonding across size and species is proof enough for me. Your story reminded me of a klamauk on stepping out of a street car in Cusco, Peru, to look back and find a man waving my money belt at me from a side window while everyone else hollered to get my attention! The belt clip had come undone, no crime, just human kindness. I once spotted a $5 bill on the ground outside an exit of Trader Joe's. My American buddy picked it up and wanted to keep it, I was incensed, it may have cost me our friendship. 'We write to find out what we are thinking' or something to this effect is a quote I recently read and one that surely appeals to me.

  29. It's sad that was her first reaction. But maybe your kindness will change her point of view (or at least her mood!) I can't wait to hear of your next kindness.

    And as for blogging, I love your so-called drivel. I don't find it drivel; I find it a wonderful slice of life. I almost always learn something or laugh or feel and that's so important. As for me, I blog because I love the community and have made many good real-life friends through that first online connection. It also gives me a good excuse to do my photography or journal things I want (somewhat selfishly) to "get down" and share. And it's nice, because no one has to look at it if they don't want -- fully voluntary.

  30. I blog because I can. Maybe I am a selfie blogger who knows. I always enjoy your blog, our lives are different but in some ways the same. Sometimes I get so tired of being a caregiver and I think you tire of it also. BUT whatever can we do ..give up? Nope I trudge one one day at a time:)

  31. Kinda a sad statement on humanity, isn't it?

  32. I started my blog as a means of learning to write, and it's still a vehicle for my writing. I don't think there's a thing selfish about that. Ego's getting a bad rap these days, but without ego, who would create? I've always thought Georgia O'Keeffe had it just right when she said, “Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant… It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest.” But that's just me, and my approach. There's room for us all -- and thank goodness for that.

    As for the lady with the purse, I suspect she was scared to death. I've gone a bit shaky myself a time or two -- usually when a credit card disappears. What's important is that she got it back, thanks to you, and that she calmed down enough to thank you.
    I once left my bag in the cart while I was loading groceries into the car, and was preparing to drive away without it when a clerk noticed and stopped me. Perhaps, like me on that day, the woman had her head full of other thoughts, and just didn't have room for her bag!

  33. Please Friko keep on blogging. Your posts always speak to me, they are thought provoking and I enjoy your honesty.
    I love blogging and the virtual connections it has created for me. Words don't come easy to me , I prefer cooking.

  34. Could it be, we blog therefore we are? Who knows. Mostly, I write because I like to write. However, some days, I think I am like Gertrude Stein, I hate to write, but love to have written. Other days, when I need to vent, writing is a catharsis. Several of my granddaughters read my blog, one of them a writer. Sometimes I am communicating with them.

    As for turning in lost items, we have probably all been had.

    Your orangey skirted woman reminded me of a woman I saw with a shpping cart during a dock worker's strike in Hawaii. She was trying to fill her hasket before the store ran out of goods. She had about 49 packets of ground beef in her cart stacked higher than the cart rim, turned a curve too fast and overturned, items flying everywhere. For once I didn' rush to help. I just stood there and thought. "how selfish."

    BTW if RD is the one who says there is no god, I think he is selfish and self centered too. Religions may be human inventions, but a Higher Power most certianly exists.

  35. I am torn about blogging. I first started mine to record things I wanted to think about or remember, things I thought might entertain people or make them think about issues. Now it has become a "living" record of events on our new farm and we hope a bit of fun and teaching too. I enjoy the blogs I follow for the differing viewpoints they express. The touch of the human condition so to speak. Do take care and keep blogging!

  36. Another interesting post from you!

  37. Here it is a week later and I am just reading your post. I am late in reading because I have not blogged much of late. When I finally sit down long enough to read a blog, your blog is one of the first I love to read. Your writings are far from drivel, nor do I consider your writing as self-centered. You write about your experiences, your insights, your observations, your life. As you write, you truly do synthesize your experiences, observations and etc. with your very deep and broad base of knowledge about other topics. This makes for fascinating and memorable reading. You also are so descriptive in your writing. How will I forget "orangey skirt lady?" How will I forget her reaction? I am indignant for you as I read about her initial response.

    Blogging connects us and makes us understand ourselves and others better. I hope to get back to doing it on a more consistent basis. Quite honestly, I do feel a bit selfish myself when I spend my time reading and writing blogs. I often think I could use my time so much more wisely, but the truth is my life is much enriched because I blog.

  38. Introspection is part of blogging, so, there's one of the reasons why I blog. It allows me to share a platform with like-minded people, like you, who bring their own take on an issue which might otherwise be thought of personal. :-)

    Greetings from London.

  39. There is definiteiy something about you and your blogs. A large group of followers enjoy reading them so we must have our own motives. Mine is clear. You are a person worthy of respect and your words interest me.
    As for you seeming suspect? I think it is part of thr fear being bred daily by medias and it's sad.

  40. Dear Friko, Just keep blogging. You are good at it, you are spikey sometimes and not afraid to say things like they are. Thank you.
    Blessings from Dalamory.


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