Monday, October 31, 2011

Idea #7: It Is Better to Give And Receive

You could get this card from here I think.
It is so easy for me to forget my affluence.  Especially this week after switching to cash.  Counting out exact change at the till made me feel poor.  I can't really explain it, but I wanted to say something like, "I could charge this whole store if I wanted! I just don't want to...." Why does cash at a grocery store feel like food stamps to me?  Weird, right?

Anyway, part of the Occupy Me gig is an effort to remember and live in my affluence as way of undermining the Big Booming Voice that says "STILL NOT ENOUGH...!!"  Tonight, as young kids knock on my door and demand free candy and I keep having more to give away, I'm enjoying the feeling of having more than enough and I think there's a lesson there.  Again.

It's is a lesson I've learned so many times, but apparently don't retain: giving things away makes me feel like I have more than enough. Every. Time.

I figure that that big bad guy, Corporate Guy Out There, spends all of his time crafting ways to make me feel like I don't have quite enough, and thus pushing me to consume.  Consume what I can not afford, what I do not need, what does great harm in its very manufacture and distribution.  And so often, I'm falling for it. Over and over, I'm all like, "Yeah, you're right! I do need that!" Moron.

Giving away is a great big F*%k You to Corporate Guy Out There.  In one fell swoop, it is my statement that I have more than enough and that the receiver can get what they need without buying into the system.  So amazing, right?

Now in case you missed it, cause I'm subtle like that, here's the tricky bit:  to make this work, we all need to not only give what we have away, but receive what is freely given.  The first half of the equation is so awesome because we get to feel our affluence and the warm fuzzies of being a provider.  The second half? Not so much.  Buying what we need is kind of empowering: "I'm captain of my own ship! Tally Ho!"  Being given what we need, for free? Kind of like cash at the grocery store for me.  It is an admission of my own finite resources, of my own need for the generosity of others to sometimes step in and provide what I can not, for whatever reason. 

That is exactly where the power of this one lives: when we live in the ebb and flow of giving and receiving to and from our neighbours (the people we run into who need what we have to give, and have to give what we need), the structures that have been built to get us to Buy More! Have More! Get More! become useless and unnecessary. It's magic. 

And so, Idea #7 is a two-pronged one:  I will start to listen more carefully for the knocking at my door, when my neighbours arrive and ask for what I have to give.  And equally, I will make known my need and receive what is offered, believing that both actions undermine a system that I believe to have done us all great harm by convincing us that we are our own providers.

Occupy Me.

IDEA #7 Response:
What have you given that reminded you of your own abundance? When have you last received something you would have preferred to have provided for your own self?


  1. This may seem rather, well, piddling, but I always tip generously at restaurants, in taxis and such. If anybody quibbles, or remarks on the size of the tip, I say, "they almost certainly need it more than I do". Which is always the case, moreso when I'm in other countries.

    Years ago, I attempted to put a complete stop to incoming birthday and Christmas gifts. I asked family to instead donate to one of a few charities. I figure that I know better than anyone what I want, and I usually have the money to buy it.

    This went fine with my siblings, but the various boomers (parents and such) in my life could not get behind it.

    Related: I didn't love this article about millenials, but I was interested in the "we'll make due with less stuff and money" senaiment near the end:

  2. @Darren, I didn't get to the article you've linked to, but did want to point out that refusing to receive might kind of be the opposite of what I'm suggesting... just sayin'. But generous tipping - I'm all over it.

  3. @Darren, just read the article and now I'm even sadder. Like a hopeful sad, but sadder.