Yesterday I poked fun with a couple friends on Twitter, asking them to order me back off coffee. After they had both given me 'the order', and I asked for a reward, another friend (and by friend I mean these are all people I know 'in real life') suggested "service is its own reward".
While I know the exchange was in jest, I can't recall the number of times I've heard the sentiment "service is its own reward" offered - earnestly. I know this is factually true for a lot of folks, and to those for whom service truly is its own reward, I tip my metaphoric hat.
The concept of service being its own reward isn't true for me - not when I do some sincere investigation. Let me enumerate:
I am extremely service-oriented. I serve individuals in my Work with dual-diagnosed adults. I serve groups in my Work teaching and training. I have served companies in my Work as a recruiter and curriculum designer. I serve my Family around my father's not-so-great health. I serve my community via my Work as Bendyogagirl, and also in my mundane life (next big focus is fundraising for the Trevor Project).
I have a partner who, when he is up visiting, frequently has to remind me that he hasn't asked me to get him something to drink, he merely observed that he's thirsty. Shit - I'm driving the car I drive, because it's interior space is the largest in its class (good for hauling gear) and can easily fit a person over 6 feet tall in the back seat (good for hauling rockstars). Sincerely.
I wake in the morning and my first thoughts are often about service. And you know what? Even with my orientation, service is not its own reward for me. Ever. Why?
I get something for service beyond the service itself. Sure, service takes time, and if you, like me, serve a lot - that's most of any given day. Did you know that giving time gives you time? For real. If you donate your time to another person (stranger or not), your perception of how much time you have available increases. So in one sense, I gain time from doing for others.
Insofar as I serve individuals, I get something there, too. In my work with dual-diagnosed adults, I get to cultivate compassion, patience and also share what I know. I get to watch people move through their Recovery and succeed (or fail). It's a form of bearing witness.
In my service to individuals in a D/s sense, I get to 'be a good girl', I get to help someone I Respect, I receive Dominance. Often I get play - not always, but often. I will observe that, in D/s relationships with a daily component, all service and no play hasn't fared well for me. Nope - I'm way to busy to take care of someone and not be fed in other ways.
In my service to my community, most notably through my work with NELA and the Fetish Fair Fleamarket, I get to work with amazing people making a very awesome thing happen. I get 'street cred' with other producers. It's good on my 'resume'. And while there's hardly a 1:1 ratio of effort:reward, what I do receive is enough to continue to work the hours I do for the Flea.
Nope -service most definitely isn't its own reward. It's a reward... and there are many other reasons I do what I do.