The Tale of Me-First Mary
Mary was an odd name for this particular Mary.
For this particular Mary often pursed her unmerry lips in disgust at some other someone. Someone, anyone who got in her way during any particular day. Mary was as unmerry as any someone could be.
Knowing that she lived in a me-first world, Mary often used her lips to speak aloud the two words always mostly on her mind. “Me.” And “my.” (Sometimes Mary often spoke the words “I” and “mine” too.) These were the syllables that tumbled off her tongue from each day’s first sunflicker to every night’s final moongleam.
Driving to work, she fumed that an accident ahead on the highway put “me” behind schedule. Vacationing in the mountains, she snorted that her boyfriend’s sprained ankle ruined “my” holiday. Watching television, she sniffed that terrible news about terrible floods somewhere interrupted “my” favorite program. The drivers in the accident and the boyfriend in the mountains and the people living near terrible floods were not tickled by these events either, of course, though this thought never meandered completely into Mary’s mind.
Mary wasn’t mean, mind you. No, Mary didn’t want to hurt anyone, of course, of course not. No, Mary had just learned, oh yes, Mary had learned the big lesson very very well: If you’re helping someone else, you’re not helping yourself. It was a hard but simple truth, as every someone understood in this me-first world.
The trouble with being just one me in a me-first world is all those other me-firsters living in your world, of course. Yes, all those other me-first people just keep getting in your way. Which was why Mary so often pursed her unmerry lips in disgust at some other someone. Which was why Mary was as unmerry as any someone could be.
And so it went for Me-First Mary, day after day after day becoming less merry by the moment. Until one day Mary had to wonder, just for one moment beneath her pursed unmerry lips: “Maybe me-first isn’t the best way to be in this world. Maybe, maybe helping only yourself isn’t really helping yourself at all.” This is what Mary wondered one day.
Was it possible that doing something helpful for some other someone really might help Mary too somehow? Was it possible Mary might feel a little merrier if she thought a little less about herself alone? Was it really possible that any of this was really possible in this me-first world?
Mary pursed her lips again, tighter than usual.
“No, that’s really not possible,” Mary said tartly to herself aloud. “My life’s hard enough just worrying about ‘me’ all the time! ‘Me,’ ‘me,’ ‘me’ every minute and I still can’t get what I want. Imagine how bad my life would be if I started worrying about any of ‘them’ too!”