I wanted to write one last giving post before moving on to my next project (which involves giving as you will see).
The act of gift giving is made in relationship, a giver must have a receiver in order for a gift to come into being. Because stories are at heart gifts, this is echoed in storytellers needing audiences and authors needing readers. A couple of weeks ago, I participated in a storytelling event that was highly enjoyable for tellers and audience alike. After the final song, one of the tellers thanked the host for her outstanding organisation of the event and her warm presence in holding the performance space for all. As the audience began to clap, the host in question started mumbling “oh it was nothing” etc., while doing her best to wave away the rising tide of appreciation. The tellers and audience wanted to give the gift of thanks, by refusing to receive it, our lovely host blocked that transfer of energy. Stymied, it started to fumble and petered away, leaving an awkward eddy in the room.
With this in mind, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks paying attention to the gifts I’ve been receiving and how I receive them: i.e. trying to do so with grace and gratitude. The idea of keeping a gratitude journal is so mainstream these days it’s almost not worth mentioning, with studies showing that such an orientation can help improve emotional, mental and physical health .
I’ve received way too many gifts in this period to detail here, gratitude journal style, but here are some highlights: I benefitted from the used cold box (a.k.a. cooler) that Real Foods was giving away to avoid landfilling it, which provided us with cold food storage while we vacationed off the grid. We borrowed tools from our downstairs neighbours and used them to free a significant section of the back garden form decking, which was also a gift to the garden and its denizens. My garden, in turn is giving us bounties of beautiful strawberries at the moment. And the sun has finally been giving us some heat up here in Scotland. Of course the gift of the sun’s rays also feeds into the production of the strawberries…nature, the original gift economy.
A good way to show your appreciation for gifts is to give them away again. In fact one of the stories told at the above mentioned performance was about this precisely, Duncan Williamson’s The Golden Bowl, beautifully retold by Sheila Kinninmonth. So I thought I’d end by posting links to some of the gifts I’ve received from the digital world over the last wee while:
The Permaculture Podcast is a wonderful freely given resource with original interviews as well as links to video and other related resources. So my gratitude goes out to Scott Mann for all the work he does making this information available in user-friendly ways.
I’ve been receiving a lot of inspiration from listening to Scott’s interview with Ethan Hughes, who is actively and presently living the gift economy. Ethan will definitely be joining my virtual group of outsider-witnesses (I promise a more thorough post on what I mean by this in the future).
Inhabitat.com also inspires me on a regular basis, with its coverage of design for sustainability. This post in particular caught my eye, as it has a lot to do with giving: Feeding Forward
And Yes magazine, which I give financial support to and receive in print, gives me hope by providing news on the positive social and environmental changes that individuals and communities are making.
Finally, on his website, Charles Eisenstein, whose book has in part inspired these thoughts on giving, offers his earlier book The Ascent of Humanity as an audio book as a free download. This gift was enabled in turn by Lynn Gerry, of the Unwelcome Guests, who read and recorded almost every word.