Give It All Away: Part I

Important advice from one of my dearest and wisest friends: GIVE IT ALL AWAY.

Give away your ideas, your lunch, your things, your time, your art. Give abundantly, indulgently, as if you have inexhaustible resources, even if this is not true.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this advice recently. It’s been an ongoing mantra in my mind as I go about my daily business emailing, organizing, cooking etc. Eventually my thoughts wander back to it: Give it all away.

Then, after considering giving it all – everything – away, my thoughts carry on: to whom do I give? and more importantly, what do I give? 

Then, I freeze.

Not because I want to stingily hold on to my awesome smelling orange blossom candle or adorable hoop earrings, but because in examining what I give and want to give to others, I open myself to vulnerability, rejection and fear of the unknown.

And yet, I know my work as  person, artist, citizen of the universe is letting go of my fears in order to explore and cultivate what I give. Generosity is a willingness to share one’s gifts with the world. Acknowledging these gifts can feel simultaneously scary and empowering – because this is the work you’re supposed to do in this life. This is the work that is bigger than you.

When you enter your mid-30’s and you are a woman (like me), you feel an essential power within you (it’s true!). If this truth was popularized and embraced in our culture, the world would be in much better shape. Maybe this feeling of power is rooted in our biology – our instinct is to create, nurture and intensely love the object(s) of our making. But even with biology and a burning desire to give – we still have to be mindful enough and commit to honoring it.

More soon on my adventures in giving it all away. I’ll be working on it.

Thanks for reading.

Susan



3 Thoughts

  1. Simon Firth says:

    A few random thoughts:
    You can give it, but does the giftee want it? i.e. How do you prevent a gift from being a burden?
    Does generosity embrace a willingness to receive as well as to give?
    Gifting to a specific person is very different from offering a gift generally.
    In trying to give particular things away, I’ve been surprised that people were willing to take them.
    In trying to find things cheaply, I’ve been surprised that people were willing to give them.
    In both the cases above, we used a gift exchange (freecycle).

    • admin says:

      Simon, thanks so much for your thoughts. This post is just a beginning in my exploration of what generosity means to me. I do hope to touch more on the idea of a gift as a burden (or feeling a debt in giving) as well as willingness to receive gifts (something that I’m not that great at, personally).

      I too love being surprised by how willing people are able to give in casual commerce – maybe this is why I find garage sales, craigslist, freecycle so pleasurable.

  2. Sharon says:

    I love this. I think it is important to be able to receive too… you can’t have one without the other!

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