Then holiday season – Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa etc. – shopping-season, mall-music season that will most certainly drive us all a little bit crazy.
Consider this for a few moments …
Sit back, consider this whole concept of giving.
Is it really, deeply, all about giving and receiving?
Is it like planting more seeds in spring to harvest a bigger crop in the fall?
We can give gifts (things, deeds, favours), a fine hello (or a swift good-bye), a hug (or a boot), the time of day (or not), time, time in their face or time away. Or brightly wrapped packages bought with cash, credit cards and sometimes with love. We wrap them because we care. Or because we feel obligation to someone or to guilt driven into us by mothers, grandmothers and others.
Or, possibly, because we want to …
What do people want from us?
If those two important elements – what people want and what we think they want – are not in alignment, which I believe they most often are not, what can we do about bringing them into sync?
And, the obvious question being, if there is a better fit between what people want from us and what we think they want to be achieved, will they be happier?
Will they be nicer?
Will we be happier?
Will we be nicer?
I believe most people would like to be nice, to be seen that way – and to like nice and happy in return from others in their whirl of busy days mixed with friends, family, colleagues and strangers. In busy traffic, store line-ups, crowded trains and listening recorded marketing while being on-hold with some overseas call-centre? … not so much.
In a world of give, take, struggle for balance – I fear we are relegated to an endless and perhaps downward spiral of being less happy the more we try, less giving the more we give.
I think the joy of simple reciprocity that we seek is increasingly rare, and probably more easily achieved than most people (me included) might think.
I’ve been working at some changes. I’ve realized that kindness doesn’t come because I want it. But, when it does, it seems to bear a striking resemblance to my own efforts to be thoughtful, kind, appreciative and to be quite simply, nicer.
Of course, the moral of this story – the bottom line, is that kindness of others, niceness from others is not what it is about at all.
It isn’t what we plant or what we reap in return. It isn’t about reciprocity being achieved.
It is about planting.
It is about planting, planting, planting, planting.
Of course, the more we plant, the more we harvest.
But it isn’t about harvesting.
Plant a smile.
Plant something nice.
What grows will amaze, startle and thrill you.
Now, if you don’t want any of that, don’t plant.
The perfect gift for anyone – one size fits all – is the gift of time. Give a little, or give a lot, it is appreciated more than we might ever know. Sure, it is nicer to give thoughtful time and to do gifts of service to others. It is nice to put a ribbon around it, not because it needs wrapping but because it deserves to be regarded as special. The ribbon is for the recipient, because a gift is all about them, for them, because of them. The giving, it seems to work out, is all the giver needs. The lift we get from giving is often greater than any reward we might have ever thought to seek.
It isn’t seasonal. It isn’t rational. It isn’t equal. It isn’t contrived. It isn’t designed.
Easy to find, it is inside all of us. We just have to look.
column written/ published from Calgary
morning walk: 5C/40F, overcast, fresh light breeze, traffic humming and train-crossing bells ringing, there was no calm this morning. Not urgency, just not tranquil – and Gusta becomes more frenetic in her wanderings. Does my dog have ADHD? Lovely walk, 6 more sleeps …