When I think back on my life I observe many moments in which I react to words spoken and written to me from others. Often, these reactionary instances arise when the other person is expressing a truth to me that I do not want to hear. I get defensive. I get angry. I take it personally. Sometimes these truths are simply fears that I myself am thinking, and yet do not want to admit to. I can think of conversations with my parents when I react with anger to their legitimate questions that I have no answer for.
Since discovering a powerful tool, I am now practicing the art of feedback – learning to be open, receptive, and reflective to one’s environment. This tool allows me to deeply hear the words of others and to discern what I am to take responsibility for in the moment. It allows me to hear the truth of what others are sharing with me and to integrate it within my own understanding in order to arrive at the highest union of both. The tool is what we might call humility.
As I commit myself more deeply to my evolving purpose in this lifetime, I find others challenging me to really know what that means, and to make sure I am doing it with integrity and authenticity. I hear them share my fears. I see them share my tears. I feel them share my doubts. With the tool of humility I am able to take ownership of those fears, tears, and doubts – and transform them from challenges into invitations. With every question I respond to, I find greater clarity and security within my Self by simply opening to the truth of their expression. They are inviting me into a greater knowing of my Self.
One particular reflection I have received a few times now that I would like to deconstruct (hear the story, break it down, understand its hidden assumptions, and rebuild it) is;
You can’t keep asking your friends and family for money.
Hear the Story
First off, I am grateful for such feedback and love to meditate on this particular one. The individual is tired of me asking them for money. Many people are excited to help me financially, especially when I have a need and it contributes to worthwhile cause – so the “friends and family” part is likely a projection – they can only really speak for themselves. I have to trust others to tell me if they no longer wish me to ask them. That is taking ownership over one’s own boundaries. And I can respect that. It simply means that the reason for my need is not in alignment with another’s values and/or the required value exchange (reciprocation) is not seen.
Breaking it Down
Is there something wrong with asking friends and family for money? I remember many fundraisers throughout my youth where it was okay, even encouraged, to ask friends and family for money. When did it become not okay? Maybe when I became an adult, but I’m not too fond of double standards and rules that don’t apply equally to all. Again, if someone simply doesn’t want to give me money, then that is another story – it doesn’t mean there is something wrong or that we shouldn’t do it. If anything was “wrong” with it, I suppose one could argue the freeloader/moocher feeling – which is okay, it is simply one’s perspective, and a valid one if the service is not seen (i.e. taking more than one is giving back).
This is where the dominant cultural idolization of the self-made, independent individual seeps in. We have created a cultural aversion to asking for help. We fear that it means failure, inadequacy, and weakness. How backwards it is when we discover the absolute courage required for total vulnerability. Just because you may never have required the help of others (which I find hard to believe), doesn’t mean you won’t at some point.
Most charity fundraises through personal connections. They have a meaningful purpose and people desire to support such work. What about an individual embodying charity? What about making charity more personal and intimate? What about transforming anonymous charity into personal solidarity?
Finding the Assumptions
Where does your money come from? The people who tell me that I can’t keep asking friends and family often include the not-so-subtle advice to get a job. This advice assumes that I am not contributing work to the world. I am open to employment, however the challenge is that the work I choose is not (at the moment) paid – that doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable service. So I need to come up with creative solutions.
But where does the money from a job come from? Well, one step away it likely comes from the corporation one works for. But where does that come from? Another corporation, maybe. Eventually though, the simple fact is that if you trace it back far enough, it ALL comes from people. Right back to its original creation.
In the example of a paid position with a corporation, the money the corporation receives likely comes from individuals who value some form of service the company offers. We have created corporations as intermediaries for money flow, but the truth is that is all comes from people. When I worked for the City of Calgary, I was essentially being paid to work by every single tax-paying individual in the city.
Rebuilding the Story
One of the foundational elements of the gift economy is relationship. Money, often through the structure of the corporation, separates people from each other by turning relationship into transaction. Money is used to eliminate any sort of sense of owing another. In a gift economy, when someone helps another in need, a relationship is established and a bond is created through the feeling of gratitude. It simply says, “You helped me in my time of need and I will help you in yours, however I am able to at the time”. This is the glue of community.
I have asked for money from friends and family many times since experimenting within the gift economy. It’s new terrain; I’m learning and sharing as I go. I use the internet, so really, I invite the whole world. It is my way of saying, “This is what my heart is calling me to do. If anyone is inspired to support the service I wish to offer, this is what I need.”
A question I ask myself when I am observing and reflecting on my behaviour is, “What would happen if everyone in the world did it?”
What would happen if everyone in the world asked for help when they needed it?
What would happen if those requests for help were directed to supporting one’s heart-based gifts and service to the whole?
What beautiful questions. This is the world I dream of. Everyone choosing them Selves, their passions and dreams, their heart-based service, their excitement. Everyone devoted one hundred percent to the discovery of that which they can give back to the world. Each person committed to co-creating beauty with the help of others. Everyone finding the courage to believe in their own worth – their deservedness of a joyous, fulfilling life. Everyone supporting one another, asking, “What can I give and create?” rather than “What can I take and consume?”. Can you imagine a world?
The only way that I know how to arrive at such a place is to embody it each and every day as fully as I can. I believe in the power of the many, the momentum that small acts can add up to. What if all it took to ignite someone’s creative dreams was a few dollars? What if you knew that person? What if we created an economy that supports people to find harmony between that which they love to do – their service – and that which benefits people and the planet? Do we value such a world?
I desire to co-create a new story, one in which I am giving and receiving to people I know, economically and otherwise. Establishing such gift relationships has been a journey of great self discovery. It requires time to build trust. It requires communication to share in reciprocity. It requires a letting go into forgiveness. It requires a commitment to a path of deepening into service through receptive humility – resulting in the alignment of doing what one loves while still creating value for others. It means supporting that which we truly value from others – especially the people we love and know.
It’s time to reconnect money to the personal and intimate. It’s time to reconnect money to relationship and community – take it off of its lofty, immaterial pedestal and ground it into the physical reality. It’s time to remember that there is no reason to take more than we need and that generosity and reciprocity are great actions of healing at this critical juncture in humanity’s path.
If you wish to support Skye’s latest mission to collect and transform garbage in Mexico into art for disposal, feel free to join the facebook event or read this Q&A blog to discover the back story. He is looking for 198 people to sponsor one hour of the 198 hours he will be devoting to trash collection over 33 days.