On Giving

They give that they may life, for to withhold is to perish.
— Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

A few weeks ago, my teacher told me she had moved to a new city. She told me she “was not teaching, and withered up.”

My favorite line on Giving by Kahlil Gibran popped into my head, which never ceases to have new meanings and applications in my life. 

Giving in the modern western world has become synonymous with charity, the homeless, “the needy”. We see manufactured days like “Giving Tuesday” after Black Friday, where we are supposed to give our money to this or that organization.

Why is the request always for money? What of giving gifts? What of giving our gifts? Where has this art gone?

You give but little when you give of our possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.

A lot of times our jobs can feel like giving. We are giving our time, our brain, our attention, our resources to the tasks at hand. But I see so many around me who are unfulfilled, confused as to the meaning of life, and searching for purpose. They are giving, yes… but perhaps not of themselves. These people often end up in India, or on another soul-searching trip to Southeast Asia. Which is beautiful. But what if it doesn’t take such a grandiose gesture (and money!)… what if it is simple?

What would it look like if we truly gave gifts each day? If we truly gave of our gifts, of our Selves?

What’s more is that when you give of your Self, you are also giving yourself the gift of giving. The result is a symbiotic interaction where both parties are uplifted. It is this quality of interactions that lead to sustainable societies. Find where these healthy exchanges live, and find yourself an equal trade of gifts.

I think back to my time farming in Pescadero. I would teach yoga in our greenhouse during the evening in exchange for vegetables grown by my friends. I was given the gift of watching bodies dance and transform into heartier shapes before my eyes. They were given the gift of nourishing my body with nutrients while regenerating the land around us. We all left the greenhouse each night staring in wonder at the crisp, starry skyscape… feeling full, great, and grateful.

You know your gifts. You have many. It’s those things you can’t help but do. It’s what you’d be doing if you didn’t have to be “at work”.  (If you think you do not, ask those around you… they know.)

Your gifts can be simple. They can be writing letters to friends, baking, listening, explaining, making… or just Being You.

For in truth it is life that gives unto life— while you yourself are but a witness.
— Kahlil Gibran