Dose #6: Giving, Letting Go & Singing
"No one has ever become poor by giving."
Someone I've known since we were 12, told me it's wrong for our country to give to the poor, "...they can't get it together", "...they take advantage of the system." "How will you feel", he asked, "...when New York is taken over...?", as he tells me his adopted state, California, has been, "...by these people". We don't talk too often.
The garage of a friend of a woman I know, doubled as a storage bin for an oversized collection of hand-woven baskets gathered on countless trips around the world. When the woman marveled at their beauty then asked if she could take one or two for her home, the friend said, "I'm sorry...I plan to use them." When cancer took him the following year, the baskets were left behind.
When I suggested to someone it might be wise to move into a smaller, less costly apartment - money is tight and growing tighter as she ages - she argued against the idea saying the collection of books, sheet music, and recordings from the 1970s - her "identity" - require space.
Last month a well-dressed stranger watched as I gave two single bills to a homeless man sitting on the street with his dog. As I walked towards my office, the man, without invitation, walked with me, admonishing me for my foolishness, "You don't know what he'll do with the money...it'll probably be used for drugs." "Yes, it might", I said.
The inability to let go of what is no more. To resist change. A blanket of security as possessions are housed and inventoried. Anger towards those who would take advantage. The expectation of better days. Territorial instincts. Control. Perhaps.
Confined in fear, we hold tight to what is impossible to keep. Imprisoned by the mindset of lack, we relinquish the freedoms known to those believing in abundance. Property secured with locks, alarms and passwords, warehoused in garages, apartments and storage units - protections against a taking world, a changing world - protections against a deeply feared sense of nothingness.
We reject the peace of mind that comes with simplicity, choosing instead the burdensome role of caretaker. In our early years, accessories and tangibles to make us look good, acquiring because it's the game we're told to play. Later, things to reassure - reminders of who we were in a time that was.
In the end, do we own anything? Do we have that much control? Does being alive mean holding tight to a dollar, clutching, guarding what we fear will be taken...or, is it something else?
Is it feeling more joy in the giving, than in the keeping? Is it rebirth every time you lessen the trials of another? Is it knowing when to let go? To believe there will always be enough?
That little girl, Anne Frank, left with nothing but love and words, how alive she was.