This week I am focussing on generosity, and its opposite – holding on. It only takes a quick glance around my (and most other people’s) house to discover that most of us have far too much of everything. Mostly things we will never use again, but are keeping ‘just in case’. I pride myself on tackling this problem – I would much rather things were being used than sitting in my house. And yet I still occasionally feel I am drowning in a sea of stuff. Sometimes it is simply the time it takes to deal with things and get them out of the door.
Giving away things you no longer use is only one kind of generosity. In the meditations I’ve been doing recently, Deepak Chopra suggests that you should give what you want to receive. This seems to go against the grain. If you don’t have enough money, how can you give it away? Well, it can be done in a small way, even popping a few coins into a collecting tin. One of our favourite ways to give is through Kiva. This is a charity which funds microlending projects around the world. As the loans are repaid, you get to lend the same money to help another entrepreneur – it’s like a gift you can keep on giving.
The last type of generosity I want to think about is with our time. We’re all so rushed these days that we’re tempted to say we don’t have time to give. It’s causing a lot of problems for charities, with the burden of keeping things going often falling to a very few people. This is my biggest challenge as I always feel so horribly busy. But when our local library was threatened with closure I couldn’t stand by when a team got going to turn it into a community library. I’m only one of many volunteers, but I have to say so far I have really enjoyed being part of the project. As a writer, I’m really passionate about books and their place in society. So I’m putting my time into keeping this resource available for my community. With enough volunteers nobody has to give more time than they want. I’m waiting to see how Deepak’s theory works out in this area!
I’m wondering what other imaginative ways you have found to be generous. Or what generosity has meant to you either as a giver or as a receiver. It does feel good to give, but you can only do so if someone is also there to receive what you have to offer.