All Martin Wants for Christmas

guest post Martin StellarToday’s post is by Martin Stellar. He contacted me last week, asking if I’d like to read something he’d written, as he realized he had inadvertently made it a dedication to Jason Schippers. I said “ship it,” and today, you’re reading Martin’s literary craftings. Martin Stellar is a copywriter and a singularly odd micro-genius. He’s usually harmless and sometimes even funny, when he’s not busy rousing people into performing charitable acts of kindness. You can follow Martin on Twitter and check out his site at MartinStellar.com. If you’re interested in guest posting on ErikaNapoletano.com, use my contact form to drop me a line.

This post was intended to go on my own blog, but as I was writing it I realized that somehow, at some deeper level, I was dedicating it to Jason Schippers. I carefully asked Erika if she would like to read it. Afterwards, she said that she would post it, so here we are.

Why I Didn’t Write Last Night – And Why I Want a Christmas Present From You

Last night I had just finished a productive day of work, and I figured I’d go to a bar to write a guest post that’s been laying around for a while. You know, have a beer and see some life around me. Being a writer is nice and for an ex-monk living the hermit lifestyle is fine, but sometimes you just want some fresh air and some people in earshot.

I toted my laptop down the street, installed myself, ordered a beer. Started writing. Stopped.

There was a man right next to me who wanted to know why I was sitting in a plain old cafe with my shiny Mac.

“You’re a writer? Write about me!”

I eyed him carefully. A fifty-ish, slightly nervous but friendly guy, dressed rather less than casually. He looked like a simple but shrewd feller.

“Ok” I said. “Tell me a story, and I’ll write it down. Tell me something from your past that really touched you. Good or bad, but something that had an impact.”

He said we’d have to go to his friend’s bar and he’d tell me. I didn’t really want to because I was in the mood for a good writing session of my own, but he said: “Do me the favor.”

His friend’s bar was, in a word, grotty. Tiles on the wall, a stainless steel counter. A clientele consisting of older men in various states of alcoholic soporification, life fatigue, or by the looks of it: both.

The girl behind the counter was a pretty Colombian number with as keen an eye as you’ll ever see, and a black eye that was just short of being healed.

Broken people. Lost hope, strength, dreams. A lost leg. Resignation.

You know. People. It just happened to be a condensed mix of people who hadn’t made it in life. People who had nowhere near the chance all of us do to make something of it yet.

I Crashed

Here I was, a happy and fairly successful foreigner, in a small working man’s town in Southern Spain. In tune and in touch with the hip and the rich, carving out his little niche. Huzzah.

Surrounded by people who had totally lost their way.

The thing that hurt me most was seeing a girl who, by the looks of it, should have been a stellar student somewhere.  Stuck in a grimy cafe, drafting beers for clients who only wanted to chat her up crudely. And probably feel her up in the same manner. With almost enough make-up to cover her fading black eye. Young, and still unbroken enough to make it forward, but probably in for another few years of beating from her souteneur. That’s a fancy word for a not so fancy job: pimp.

It really sucked. While I am getting into the swing of this new career and being awed daily by the amazing people I meet, somewhere around the corner something bad happens. Someone falls and can’t get up, either in the bathroom or in life.

Every day.

Nothing new eh? Big deal. Life suck and shit happens, correct? Maybe I just happened to walk into a mental asylum and asked: ‘Is the entire world mad?’

Whatever, maybe. Your call.

So Why the Deuce Did I Stay There?

Because I realized that right then and there, I was able to give these people something that cost me nothing at all. In fact, I was getting free beer for it. But I could give them something that they probably haven’t received in more time than they’d care to remember.

In this case, talking to my new friend Julian, it was undivided attention. An hour or so of someone really listening to him. Paying attention to what he says, how he feels, who he is. Because, you know, he’s one of the lost ones. On the street, most people wouldn’t spend too much time talking to him.

With the girl, it was a good looking mysterious foreigner, who chatted with her a bit about Colombia and living in Spain. For a change, a man who did not want something from her. Just a chat, a few smiles and nothing more.

I walked out burning and itching to write this.

This Christmas, I Want You to Give

And I’d like you to start right the fuck now, please. With a cherry on top (and a battle axe in my hand).

Yeah I’m in the seasonal mood. You bet. Even though I’m the guy who vomits first when the Christmas madness starts in October in the shops.

I want you and everybody else, to give. I don’t care what it is. Anything goes. It’s about you giving something, something small and free. Just because you can.

You’ll find that with all the following examples, the person you give it to, he or she will not have been expecting it at all. They may not even be used to it anymore. And they may even not want it, in which case you shouldn’t push through. It’s not a gift if it’s forced upon someone.

Do it. Give. You’ll do a favor to them and to yourself with each of these little gifts, and every other you can think of.

Give…

  • A hug
  • A smile
  • A cup of coffee to the guy next in line
  • A book you cherish
  • Some time that you’d rather spend on something else
  • Biting your tongue for a change
  • Speaking your mind for a change
  • Not being so bloody stubborn for a change
  • Standing your ground for a change
  • Forgiveness
  • If you want to give some money to someone or some cause, give it
  • Lots of forgiveness
  • Love, of course (What, are you dumb? Of course love)

Anything will do. Give something to someone, as often as you can, just because you can.

And don’t stop after Christmas. Just do it, again and again. It’ll even become second nature. And it will show you something sooner or later, and I would love for you to send me an email when that happens.

Do it. Give. Thank you.

Merry Christmas.

Yeah, what did you expect? You think I’m going to wait a week to fully ride that Christmas wave like a good sleazy marketer should? I’m not a whore.

Well, maybe a little. Merry Christmas.

Oh, and please share, spread, retweet, Stumble, Facebook, Digg, Reddit and whatever the hell you want to do. Print it out and paste it on a message board. Make a Christmas card out of it. Mail it to your friends. Let’s get this message SEEN, people.

This is published under full free rights. You can do with this message whatever you want as long as you keep the core message intact. Copy, alter, edit, put your name under it, I don’t care. Whatever it takes to get this message out to as many people as possible.

Let’s tell the world that we have all, every one of us, something valuable to give. Let’s start giving. Now.

30 comments
jojo
jojo

Martin, that made me hold my breath, stop & think. I like to believe I am the kind of person that would do all of these things regularly..... but the truth is I'm not. You have made me realise I have got too caught up in my own life & issues to give anyone outside of that my time, smiles or love. I will thank my lucky stars for the life I have (even though it's shitty sometimes), & take the time to understand & listen to people less fortunate........I am going to remember to NOTICE them (a good place to start) & at the very least offer a smile, rather than a brief aknowledgement of their predicament as I walk by. Happy Christmas.

Martin Stellar
Martin Stellar

Yup, and this is it. He didn't say all that much, but he told me enough ;)

Martin Stellar
Martin Stellar

Presence is the first free thing anyone of us can give. Listening is the next. I'll make it back, it's just around the corner. Not my favorite dive, but I'll sure go look up Julian once my Spanish buddy has corrected my translation.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Listening...it's peculiar how often we forget its power :)

Alison Golden
Alison Golden

Thanks, Martin. Did you ever write the guy's story (besides this one?) That's a great way to give.

Roy Naim
Roy Naim

Martin my man. Stellar post indeed. Ya know, I often get emotional from the simple act of kindness that others do. I sit at a park bench and just watch how people communicate, how someone tells another person a heart "good day" (that is a gift), how people holds the door an extra few seconds so others can go through it. All these small act of kindness, of manners if you want to call them, cause me to go wild and realize how good we truly are. And like you did, giving that man the time of day to listen and chat with him and others, I believe that is indeed the best gift of all, just showing one cares for one another. Just spending a few minutes writing a letter (a real letter) can DO so much for the other person and, you gain a lot more in the long run (not just feel good, but one day that person will be in a position to help and will always remember you for that letter). Validate people by saying they look great today. Validate people with a smile. With a heart warming gift. With love. Thank you for the mighty post and reminder.

Jim Godsey
Jim Godsey

Thanks for posting this outstanding snapshot of human reality. Reading Martin's post reminds me of a Tom Waits song. I will now hold Martin is the same high esteem. Merry Christmas to you (and you will never hear me say that before Dec 15th either)!

Rpregulman
Rpregulman

You connect us with so many extraordinary writers, and I think this was the best one yet. This was such a positive and empowering essay, especially considering what we have to endure from the politicians in DC over the weekend. Thank you.

Corey Nagle
Corey Nagle

What LeVar said. I just wish more people wouldn't wait until Christmas to do these things.

LeVar Battle
LeVar Battle

<3 this, Martin. Thanks for sharing, Erika. Martin, I plan on executing every single 'GIVE' on your list (as I'm a habitual offender of all these) and give any others I can think of throughout 2011.

Antonia Harler
Antonia Harler

This is a BEAUTIFUL read and I agree 100 %. Of course I like material things but I am the happiest if someone does something unexpected. Something nice. Something personal. And that's what I try to do as often as I can. Give people the time of day to listen. Give them a hug or just make them smile. Sometimes I hope that one day, I'll end up in a bar like you did. I'm no exception when it comes to judging people. We all judge people on some level - their clothes, their looks, their jobs, their attitudes. But I always try and understand where they come from. Put myself in their shoes. Be sympathetic or a bitch if need be. (Sympathy doesn't always work. Sometimes the truth is what they need.) And you know, I honestly hope that one day I'll end up in a place where someone will tell me a story that will be a big enough bitch slap to finally stop judging on any level before actually getting to know the person behind the exterior. Thank you Martin for this post & thank you Erika for posting it. I will Tweet, FB, Reddit and Digg it to help you spread the message. Hell, it needs to spread.

Martin Stellar
Martin Stellar

Hi Jo! Lovely to see you stopped by. I know what you mean (and I know your situation). It's so very easy to get swamped in our own lives and forget those around us. I read you text yesterday, and it was really touching to see the effect this had on you. The vendors of 'The Big Issue' will be receiving warm smiles from now on, yes? Thank you for the comment (and the sms), I really appreciate it.

Martin Stellar
Martin Stellar

You got it down to a T, Roy. People have no IDEA of the impact a simple smile or 5 minutes of earnest talking can have. To show that you truly care, about life and the people in your life, is a gift that I personally appreciate more than anything else. So if I can give it, I do. Every minute of the day.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Glad you enjoyed Martin's post today, Roy! Thanks for stopping by.

Martin Stellar
Martin Stellar

Tom Waits? Not "Christmas card from a hooker in Minneapolis", by any chance?

The Redhead
The Redhead

Every now and then, I find a gem of a writer in the ether. Glad you enjoyed Martin's post!

The Redhead
The Redhead

Yeah, I think Martin's post kicks the shit out of politics, but I'm stoked about the repeal of DADT as well ;)

The Redhead
The Redhead

I think Martin's list is Refrigerator Magnet Worthy as well.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Spread it like a case of the clap in a frat house, sister...

Martin Stellar
Martin Stellar

Thank you Antonia. I'm no saint - yet. I also judge people and it was a revelation true and proper to be in that situation and not feel my usual dismissive self. Corey, LeVar: Christmas is every day. There is never any excuse to not give, especially if it costs us nothing at all.

Jim Godsey
Jim Godsey

Martin, I like them all. So, it was more of a collective thought than any individual song. You got the juice buddy. Merry Christmas, and no I'm not a hooker.

Martin Stellar
Martin Stellar

That's too kind... thank you Erika. For saying that and for posting this. I just translated it into rickety Spanish, so I can show it to Julian.

Martin Stellar
Martin Stellar

Fuck politics. Did I really say that? Yeah I did. Don't make me say it again.

Martin Stellar
Martin Stellar

Heh. This is probably the only message that should be allowed as spam. *runs*

Martin Stellar
Martin Stellar

Um... yeah, why not. I did write: whatever you want to do with it :)

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Grant Griffiths, mycleveragency. mycleveragency said: RT @antwizzel You need to read this post over at @redheadwriting: All Martin wants for Christmas http://bit.ly/dMzqzu […]