Giving and Receiving

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We all want to give.  I suspect that’s one reason why the holidays can be stressful feeling.  We want to give to so-and-so and this other person and the postman and somebody else who we’re pretty sure gets overlooked.  As soon as we’ve got everything and everyone covered we think of more people we could give to.  


There’s this fairly universal tendency to overestimate our capacity.  When we have an expectation for how much we can get done and then we fail to meet that expectation we can feel ethically meager, because we realize we might have said we’d do something and we’ll have to take it back.  Or we find that we can show up for some people, and other people that we’re equally keen on showing up for just won’t fit.


Learning to correctly estimate our capacity is a skill and a lifelong process.  But doing so means living at a more relaxed pace and as a more relaxed person.  


Just as there’s a tendency to overestimate our capacity, there is a corresponding tendency to underestimate our needs.  Our need for rest, our need for appreciation, our need for space, our need for nourishment.


To be full enough to give, we need to receive.


Picture an alpine lake.  How they have a tendency to be in those circular pockets in the mountain’s side, steep rocky walls all the way around except where the pocket meets the mountain’s slope.  Then there is a V where all the lake waters spill over the side and create the beginning of a stream that runs down through the forest, giving water to animals and plants on its way to joining with the other streams.


That lake can generously give its water to every living thing that needs it.  In fact, when it’s full it can’t not give.

But if it doesn’t receive water from other sources that fill it up…the stream will dry up.


It’s a simple mechanism. Giving and receiving, receiving and giving.


If we want to be the source of that stream that nourishes others, we are also required to receive, so that we will be full enough to have something to share.


We can’t give more than we have the capacity for, and we can’t give when we don’t allow ourselves to receive.  There’s a certain humility necessary in acknowledging this.


And when we’re filled up…giving is effortless.


Are you receiving what nourishes you?

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