I’ve been away from my desk for two weeks and boy, am I feeling it. Writing is no different from athletic training: you miss a few days and it all reverts back to flab. I sure did miss it, particularly because my absence was not the result of a giddy rendezvous in the South of France, but instead a heady cocktail of aging parent/young children home on Spring Break/husband with chronic illness. It’s been quite a party. Somewhere in the middle of it I finally succumbed to a full-on sob session, which helped only marginally.
I find it no coincidence, seeing as I do not believe in such things, that I’ve recently been studying Deepak Chopra’s “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success,” Law #2 of which is about giving. This March fortnight of fun provided ample opportunity to put this law into practice. I had a lot of time to think about the nature of giving, and forgiving, which is really just giving to yourself. Families provide ample fodder for forgiveness.
The Law of Giving states that the Universe operates through dynamic exchange; giving and receiving are the two aspects of that flow of energy. Failure to give, or to receive, blocks this natural dynamic, causing stagnation, decay and death. Yikes.
Apparently, it’s not only blessed to give, it’s absolutely essential.
Here’s the coolest part: you get what you give. It’s true. Deepak says so. You get what you give because everything is connected. Everything is one thing. The wonderful energy generated by giving is itself a gift to the giver.
But here’s the BIG CAVEAT: it’s the thought that counts. Your intention behind your giving is all important. If the energy behind the giving is begrudging and laced with resentment or expectation, you might as well fuhgeddaboudit. That’s just bad mojo, and everyone knows it, particularly the recipient. Giving counts when the energy behind it is love, when the desire is to bring happiness and joy to another. It’s hard for something to flow when there’s a string attached. It get’s caught in your teeth.
I actually really enjoy helping my mother. Historically, our relationship has been a challenging one, at least for me. My mother is a frustrated actress. If you’ve ever seen Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard, you’ve met my mother. Her illness exposed her real and vulnerable self, and I can relate to real and vulnerable. We actually had a pretty funny conversation in the ER about my bustline which, at 48, bears a disturbingly similar resemblance to hers at 88, a fact not lost on me when she yanked her top up for the five handsome paramedics who appeared in her living room. When your 34AA bra is largely hollow inside, it’s a sad state of affairs. But I digress. The point is, and I do have one, that the energy between us shifted and it felt good because I gave freely and she received freely. No expectations, no strings, just loving intent. It worked.
It did not go as smoothly with a sibling whom I asked to come up from out-of-state both to have time with our ailing mother and to spell me. This gift was not given as freely as I might have wished. There was a misunderstanding, and some ugly texts flew back and forth. The misunderstanding was, at least from my point of view, based on the fact that the “giving” of time was rooted in certain expectations, and with some feeling of imposition and resentment. Feelings were hurt, energy leaked all over the place, and being the delicate, sensitive flower that I am, it all caused me to wind up physically sick. The lesson? Don’t text. Talk to people; it saves a lot of misunderstandings and trouble. And oh yes, give freely.
I thought about all this giving business as I lay sick in bed, going over the argument for the 39th time and wondering where and how our interaction went off into the weeds and I realized that I just needed to forgive it all: forgive my sibling and forgive myself. As Dr. Phil says, do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy? I want to be happy. So I forgave it all. And guess what? This worked too.
Forgiveness is how we unblock all the damned up energy inside; it loosens the logjam and restores the natural flow of giving and receiving. Holding on to pride, or anger, or the past is like holding your breath: do it long enough and it will kill you. Giving and receiving is the universal breath of life: in and out, without effort or thought. This is me, not Deepak. But my beloved stepfather, David, said it best:
“Cast your bread upon the waters and it will come back with jam on it.”
Hmm. I wonder if this works with bosoms….