I just had an epiphany. No joke; like, a real “oh my God, I was completely blindsided just now” epiphany. I’m going to sound like a moron talking about it here, but I have to write it down because it was literally a 3 AM epiphany. I thought that was just a turn of phrase, but I guess not. Jesus. It’s just… whoa.
I was reading Shitty Misconceptions, a GW fanfic from Duo‘s point of view, in which quid pro quo is mentioned. In the second chapter/part, Duo says,
I use to have this really quid pro quo way of thinking, like, whenever someone would do something nice for me, I felt sorta obligated to repay them some how.
And I was effectively blindsided… at three o’clock in the morning… on a random Thursday. Literally, I said aloud, “Whoa. Jesus. That’s exactly like… Whoa.” I was talking to a friend online, and he wanted to know why I was having a Neo moment all of a sudden, so I had to explain.
ME: I just had an epiphany.
HIM: What is it?
ME: I believe in quid pro quo. I believe in it. Like, I live it. Jesus. I feel half impressed and half like a moron. I believe it so strongly that I’ve not accepted things on the pretense that I’ll owe someone something in return.
HIM: Yeah, I’ve noticed that.
And it’s not just like I haven’t taken things because I’m rich and don’t need them, or because I think someone else would use them better, or because I don’t want them. I’ve refused things offered to me in good faith because I didn’t want to feel obligated to someone. Food, money, a place to stay… things I’ve needed to survive; I’ve gone without when I shouldn’t have (and didn’t need to) just so I wouldn’t have to owe someone something, or, at least, feel like I owed them.
What does this mean? I have no idea. I believe in quid pro quo so deeply, so powerfully, that it’s right up there with my belief in a Higher Being. And I didn’t even realize it before now. It was so strong that it was like breathing. Automatic, unthinking, reactive.
I believe it because I don’t want to feel obligated to do something I don’t want to do. That is, I don’t want to owe anyone any favors that they may someday call in. I want to be the one who’s owed the favors; I don’t want to owe them to someone else. And Life is nothing if not all about favors. I don’t keep tabs on people owing me, and I don’t want to give anyone else a reason to keep tabs on my owing them.
The maxim is: Do unto to others as you would have others do unto you. No shit, Sherlock. It means, I guess, that my figuring it out moves it from “things I don’t know I don’t know” to “things I know I don’t know”… so, now that I know I don’t know, I can work on figuring out what the hell I do from this point on. (That is, I can work on making it one of the “things I know I know”…)
Finally, in just once of a handful of times in my life, I grok.