Friday, May 15, 2009
Recently, almost simultaneously, two separate and very different projects took directions I did not anticipate. In fact I never could have expected it, as both projects were presented as creative, intelligent, community-driven alternatives to the failures of outdated models. As a visionary full of hope, I was wildly excited to participate in the creation processes. Both projects were framed by concepts of cooperation, unity, with humility and honor as cornerstones. Naturally, I rolled up my sleeves and jumped right in. Sharing my gifts freely, I recruited associates to assist as well as the concepts began to materialize into structures.
And build we did. But the day came (and maybe even the same day!) that both structures began supporting practices I cannot, and will not, defend as honorable. Eeeww! Well, that's some karma back on me, for sure. Knowing there must be a lesson here, gift-wrapped with my name on the tag, I went searching. By canoe of course, in the tradition of the old ones!
At first I thought the lesson was about trust. In trust, something was given now, an exchange and a commitment, in hope of getting something back in the future. Trusting is enabling other people to take advantage of you—but expecting that they won't. But people will, and do, so you forgive them and move on. Been there, done that, I knew there was more!
I live an abundant life and I'm good at sharing. My kids are too. I teach and I expect that we can all attract abundance by simply conducting ourselves and our lives in an open-handed, open-hearted manner. Yet, here I was, about to swallow the bitter pill of disappointment. Worse, I was feeling the ugly tug of resentment because my ample generosity was not met with the expected results. But that's not how it is supposed to work! I should have been tasting the sweet honey of a life lived well!
Thankfully, clarity dawned with a bit more meditation, Oshun's blessings, and long paddles along the shoreline with my big, wet dog...
The sweetness of life. I taste that honey as I contemplate the results my charitable actions may have on the lives of others in places like Kenya and Tibet. These are people I will never meet, and who will never thank me. Here, I receive the greatest gifts in return for my kindness. My heart opens, my spirit soars, I deepen, I am one of us. Why? Because here I give with no expectation.
Ooohhh, aha! (love it!) When the gifts we give are laden down with expectations, they cease to be "gifts" and become "units" of exchange that we are, in effect, trading for some reward. Thus, the reciprocal laws of the greater, joyful, creative universe err on the side of the giver who truly shares for the sake of sharing! All else is simply a business deal. If I am disappointed in the direction of the projects I worked on, it is only because I didn't have a signed contract expressly stipulating all terms. I was never clear on the conditions. My bad. Next time. Business is business. And, I like to be in control of my business.
But giving is love!
And loving is about relinquishing control! Now and forever more, if I have trouble divesting myself of my expectations, I can realize am not acting in the true spirit of giving. I am working. And each time I do gift, whether in spiritual or tangible ways, I will ask myself if there is something I hope to receive in return. I will see what truly is.
Knowing this, giving becomes a profound joy that stands alone, separate from any and all conditions. I appreciate the flow of reciprocal abundance as a gift in and of itself. When we let go of the notion that we deserve to receive gifts based on giving gifts, real bounty – the kind that sends your spirit soaring – can once again flow freely in and out of our lives. Sweeter than honey. Thank you, Oshun.
I made a donation to Heifer this morning, and I don't know what will be done with it... bees, seeds, a water buffalo? I do not need to. I gave it with love!
May you be blessed!