One of the Native American traditions to which my teacher introduced me is the act of giving away something of value. In a way, I have always done that. Because I moved around so much, I was used to going through boxes and clothes to lighten my load. This, however, is another matter altogether. Giving away things that are no longer of use is easier than giving away something we love to use.
Three weeks ago, during our last meeting, my mentor told me that it would be a good time for a giveaway, to validate the passage of the current chapter of my life.
A giveaway is meant to be something that has a certain kind of value and importance in one’s life. Often, the things I wouldn’t want to give are the ones which hold the key to letting go of attachment. It is a big stepping stone to deal with the idea of offering precious artifacts even if you feel you are not ready to let them go. The first time I experienced this weird dichotomy was when I gave my favorite Yucca palm tree to a friend as a wedding gift. I had cared for the plant so meticulously, it had lush green leaves all the way down. There I was, giving away this pristine palm tree, not knowing how my friend would treat it. At some point, I simply had no other choice than to let go and tell myself that I had given a gift and that what the recipient did with that gift was entirely up to them.
When I made that decision, two things happened. The first thing was that I experienced relief that I didn’t have to worry about the plant not getting enough TLC in its new environment. Then there was a second aspect that got me thinking a lot. In our conversations, my friend often talked about the place in his house where he had moved that plant and how it tied the room together, how beautiful it looked, etc. I saw that my love for the plant and my ability to give it away had created a space – that love was still present within my friend and he really enjoyed the plant as much as I did. He took very special care of it even though I had never told him about my concerns.
You may have seen the movie “Pay It Forward,” which deals with a related topic on a non-material plane. Giving away something, or paying it forward, is a process that challenges us and bring us to the edge of our comfort zone. If growth is what we’re looking for, we must practice this activity on a regular basis. It is exercise. One wouldn’t expect to be able to lift 350 pounds after having gone to the gym once or twice. There are countless ways to challenge oneself in order to reshape one’s mindset. In this sense, giving away something worthwhile is special because it involves a person and also promotes kindness and connection.
On Friday I went to a Bon Iver concert in Berlin. I had purchased the tickets as a big “thank you” to my brother, who had given me a generous loan and had allowed me to pay it back on my own terms and conditions, free of interest. Also, Bon Iver was probably the last band on my “Band Gig” bucket list.
Long story short, my brother couldn’t make it to Berlin and I was left with an additional ticket. I had asked around for people who wanted to buy it and one old classmate from my high school years got in touch.
Originally, I had planned to sell the ticket, but as the day unfolded, my giveaway assignment reappeared in my mind. The day progressed in such an unforeseen and beautiful way that I knew I was going to give away my ticket. Naturally, my friend wanted to pay for the ticket. I refused but he was quite insistent. Usually, that is the point where I resign and surrender to the will of my counterpart. In this case, however, I stood my ground and, rather than fighting it out, explained why I wanted to gift him the ticket and why this was important to me.
The magic was what happened next. He looked at me, thought for a moment, and said,
“Well, then, we all will make a commitment and follow your lead in giving away something we value ourselves.”I was really touched by the fact that this energy of giving is contagious and makes other people want to give. One thing I would like to emphasize is that it is not about the monetary value. It could be something that didn’t cost anything but that is priceless to you.
So, there are two things I would like you to take along. One is a movie recommendation.
“Pay It Forward” is really a beautiful movie that can inspire us to give more and be grateful for the present moment.
The other is to try giving away something you cherish and to do it with love and joy. Let go of all attachments, emotional as well as physical, and observe what happens. Let go of expectations as well because the giveaway is something that is free of any outcome and result.