On giving

[What I had for breakfast today: beet greens, jasmine rice, a fresh egg, a little roast chicken and sriracha, all tossed together in a Adam's grandmother's big cast-iron skillet.] 

This past Friday was an anniversary of sorts: At Kamal's request, I pulled from the freezer, and toasted, and buttered, the very last organic whole-grain muffin of the batch I'd made for Kamal's breakfast on November 17.  On November 17, after feeding him that first fresh muffin, I dropped him off at preschool and went to work, where I checked Facebook, became really angry, and wrote this post. 

And the response to that post showed me, to my relief and amazement, how many of us there are: all ready to give, wanting to help, believing in the sacred sameness of all people.  There aren't words for how moved I was by the messages I received and the sense of embrace that shone from so many different places. More than anything, I learned what defines my tribe: it's giving. Love, sure, and empathy, and activism: but across the board, people giving, asking how to give, finding ways to give creatively and gracefully.

The thing about giving is: it's not optional. Not if you want to be a happy, healthy person connected in any way with the larger world. I talk a lot about how everyone has their own individual path to health and happiness, and how no one else can prescribe it to you, but on this point I'm uncharacteristically inflexible.

Giving is not optional because the alternative is, well, hoarding. Not-giving is not a neutral state. Every one of your resources is either in your possession or it isn't. And not-giving, over time, hardens and calcifies into fear-based greed--and that's a really uncomfortable feeling.

Giving doesn't have to mean writing checks. There are countless ways to give. You have so many resources to share: your time. Your physical ability. Your kindness.

Or an egg collected with great care on a rainy day.

That guy that is always just waking up under the eaves of your office building when you get there early? Notice him. Say "good morning." Let him know he is seen. That is giving.

Your friend who just had a baby? Tiptoe up to her front door, leave her a sandwich or something else she can eat with one hand, and then tiptoe away again.  Don't ring the bell and wake the baby, don't go in and make her host you. Just give something that is needed, the gentlest and purest gesture. 

That person standing alone at the party, trying to look cavalier but plainly terrified? Swallow your own nerves and talk to him. Be easy and unscary. You can be a port in somebody's storm, and it won't cost you a thing but a little bit of comfort. 

Raise awareness for causes you believe in by writing, talking, singing, dancing, shouting. Gift beauty to the world by picking that piece of litter off the hiking trail. Gift a smidgen of confidence to a twelve-year-old girl by getting as excited as she is about her garage band. Gift your family your own most realized self by taking care of your health and taking responsibility for your own happiness.

Give. Give. Give. Give endlessly, in as many ways you can think of. The more you look for opportunities to give, the more you'll find them, and the richer you'll know you are. You can afford to give something, every day, and there is no better or surer path towards celebrating all the different kinds of wealth in your life. There is no faster vehicle towards your own happiest and healthiest existence than generosity to others. Give because it's good for you and good for everyone around you; give because your goodwill will ripple outward in unpredictable and joyful ways forever; give because it's never wrong. Give because you are grateful for what you have and because you know better than to hold it too tight. There is so much to share.

[Again, cash isn't the only way to give. But if it's a way that works for you, please consider giving to my friend Chris as he brings his considerable skills to Lesvos to assist Syrian refugees. Click right here to donate, or to read more about Chris and all the ways and reasons he's walking the walk here. ]


Chris and his daughter June