Continued thoughts on the act and practice of giving...
Do you ever feel like throwing up a white flag and letting the world know you have nothing left to give?
(That old theme from Pancho’s (Raise the Flag! Raise the Flag!) is playing in my head.)
Lately more than ever I’ve been feeling quite, well, depleted. Okay, imagine if I were one of those bright orange cylindrical coolers that typically hold water or gatorade at sporting events. If the liquid symbolized my self-perceived resources, I would suggest you tip me over on my side just to pool together the last little bit and send them merrily out of the spigot. That imagery is a stretch but what I am attempting to convey is there are moments when I don’t know if I have any juice left. You wouldn’t want to pour me on a coach. It would be anti-climatic.
But hold up, wait a minute, let me cancel the invitation to my pity party and think about this. How can I say I’m almost empty? That’s pretty absurd, right? What about all the blessings that fill me up and push me forward every day? What about being grateful for the ample opportunities I am afforded? What about being grateful that I have things to share in the first place?
By now you’ve probably ascertained I am not referring to monetary gifts, for the most part. However, I am sure each one of your delightful readers can relate to that feeling of fatigue, be it physical, emotional, psychological, etc. I’m sure you all want, like me, to have a positive impact on the world, and its people, but, like me, can sometimes almost taste your limits, they’re so close.
If there is one word I hate, it is “overwhelmed.” I hate it, and I use it too often. Such a paralyzing mindset.
So, there is a lime green book I’ve been reflecting on. I know your eyes might be rolling out of their sockets right now. C’mon, “The Giving Tree?!?” Be for real, that is so cliche.
I know. But it is so good. So beautifully good.
This is what I was thinking about today- that darling tree gave of himself until he was nothing but a stump. But he was still okay. Why? Because even a stump has its roots. He is still, in his short, ugly state, connected to his life-force.
Two questions I ask myself today:
What are my roots? Do they run deep? Do I trust them? Do I rely on fleeting things to get by or am I grounded (get it?) in something more substantial? For, if I am not firmly planted, even a gust of wind, empty air, could proverbially knock me over.
How much am I willing to give? Would I go down to my stump for another? Or do I get bent out of shape if even a leaf is forfeited? Because God forbid I appear less attractive for someone else’s sake. Hmmm.
We live in a time and culture in which we are encouraged to look out for ‘number one.’ Personally, I am disturbed by the subtle presence of selfishness in my thoughts, words, and actions. It is easy to dress it up, to excuse it, even to make it appear noble. While I would not advocate the neglect of health and self-care, I wonder if we should always, or even usually, or even often put ourselves before others? Is it really for the best?
A few blogs ago, I mentioned that to give is to receive. Yes. I still attest to that. It just depends on what we aim to attain. At the end of the day, I’d rather be a stump with a friend and a heart carved into my side than a beautiful tree with no one around to share breaths of life (or photosynthesis, in this case) with.
Perhaps today we could all take a moment to intentionally serve someone else. Warning: this is the usually the least natural, most inconvenient way to spend your time. But try it out. It could be good. And you know what, I bet you’ll be taken care of too.
P.S. I sincerely aplogize for using a tree as my metaphor. It has admittedly been done a thousand times. But I find inspiration in the simple sometimes, and write this in hopes that you do too.