My heart is ever at your service. – William Shakespeare
What does that mean?
In the play, the words are spoken by Captain Alcibiades, who first pleads for Timon’s life, then (having been banished from Athens for trying save Timon) later revenges himself on those who exiled him, and conspired against Timon. (Timon of Athens [date uncertain, published 1623], Act I, scene 2, line 76.)
While this quote is often taken out of context and used as a romantic phrase, it was spoken in the form of loyalty and devotion, presumably absent of romance.
Yet that is how this phrase is most often used, so let’s consider it from that viewpoint for a moment. This quote uses the word service, implying action on their behalf without expectation of reward.
That fits with many definitions of romantic love, especially the ones which emphasize demonstration over lust. And what could be more romantic than someone who would go out of their way to do something for you?
Why is service to others important?
Whether love is absent or present, or what flavor the love may be (from romantic love to the love of all humanity), service of others is a noble and worthy thing in which to invest our time, effort, and money.
Most of us have spent some time helping other people at some point in our lives. How did that make you feel? How did it make the other person(s) feel? While you may not be able to tell exactly what they were thinking, you probably have an idea, right?
To me the question isn’t whether service to others is important, as it is recognized as important in nearly every culture worldwide. The question is why we don’t do it more often. Not to the exclusion of all else, but most of us could probably squeeze a little extra service in from time to time.
Where can I apply this in my life?
One of my favorite memories of helping someone else was pushing a car. I was driving and worked my way through heavy traffic, only to find a stalled car was the problem.
I parked in a lot just ahead of the stalled vehicle, and went back to help push. The driver was struggling, as it was an uphill run to the next parking lot, and was glad to have me help.
Once we had pushed his car into the lot, I headed back to my car. He wanted to find out what he could do to thank me, and I told him I was in a hurry, just help someone else. As I drove off he smiled and waved.
Can you remember a time when you were of service to someone else, when you showed your love for a friend or even a stranger? Take a moment and relive the experience, and the pleasure and joy which came from it.
To me, that’s the reward for a job well done. Not the reason to do it, but what we get in return for our time and effort. While service to others can be a profitable business, it’s not the what I do for a living.
For those who do service to others as a job, I imagine it feels wonderful to be doing such work. I’m sure, like all professions, there are the less pleasant things (like paperwork), but to be able to spend your day helping others would truly be a great thing.
In part, this is why I write this blog. It is part of what makes me come back to the keyboard day after day, for nearly two and a half years now. And the comments I get are my reward, and makes the writing worthwhile.
There are many ways to help others. Some only happen as random occurences, after all, who plans to break down in the middle of the road. Others can be planned, like a food drive for the local food bank.
Whether you help by taking in the donations, by sorting them, by delivering them, or simply by dropping something off, you are providing a service to the less fortunate in your community.
What can you do, sometime this month, to help someone or some group? What groups in your area are in need of assistance? What could you volunteer to do? What are your skills, or would you simply be a warm body to provide whatever help they needed?
Take some time today to consider these things, and what you can do to help. Then set aside some time, and do something to help another. Even people who aren’t people persons (like myself) can find their love of their fellow humans in such exercises.
Service to others is a wonderful thing, and gives you a wonderful feeling. Don’t deprive yourself of that feeling, find a way to be of service.