Monday, May 18, 2009

checking expectations at the door

"The only gift is giving to the poor; all else is exchange." -- Thiruvalluvar

I actually don't quite agree with this quote, being someone who has (and still does) give cash and food out to homeless people, as I've been guilty in the past of having a very clear expectation about what response I would receive from these people and where I wanted them to spend their new-found money.

Yeah. I know. This blog is not about me claiming to be an awesome person. I'm a work in progress.

At any rate, if you give somebody a gift -- even if you don't expect that person to ever give you back anything -- if you still have expectations, any, WHATSOEVER, about how this person should react, what amount of gratitude (s)he should feel, or what (s)he should do with this gift... then, my friend, you did not just give a gift. You did what I am terming "throw a party."

For example: Giving to a person in need (or refusing to give to a person in need because you think (s)he will just waste the money on alcohol, drugs, etc.) and then expecting him or her to do something specific with the money or gift.

"Giving"a friend a gift with an expectation that you will receive something back (i.e. how a lot of people practice the holidays)

Hosting an event, much like I did this weekend, for people to attend, and then fretting about whether or not anyone will show up. That was me this weekend, throwing a youth event for my church, giving a gift for everyone to enjoy, and then letting my ego dance circles around me and cause me to worry whether or not anyone would show up.

When I worried about these things out loud to the speaker of the event (one of my favorite human beings on this planet) he said to me, "You're not throwing a party. You're giving a gift. It doesn't matter how many people show up and partake of this gift. This is its purpose and you cannot screw it up unless you lose sight of why you are doing this in the first place."

Ah-ha. Sometimes it feels like we never leave high school, doesn't it.

At any rate, I took this wonderful, inspiring, youth-oriented event and stepped about four steps away from it so that my ego was safely detached, then enjoyed the entire process and event from a place of acceptance, love, and true gifty-ness. No exchanges or expectations -- whatever people wanted to get out of it, however people received this gift -- was no longer my responsibility. My only job was to witness how freakin' awesome the universe is once you resign as general manager of it.

So much better than great expectations (whether filled, unfulfilled, or Charles Dickens' writing)

1 comment:

krista said...

this is a good refocus reminder. i kind of needed that today.
thank you :-)

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