This post is largely comprised of a letter I wrote to my parents recently (see below), which expanded my awareness of something I've been thinking a lot about recently - and that is, the relationship between giving and receiving, and how ultimately, they are the same thing. So I thought I would share it with you too - in case it hits home for you on some level, as well.
This is what I was trying to get-at with my 'For Love or Money' post the other day as well, how I am endeavoring to explore ALL OF LIFE as a receiving. Because I have begun to experience all of my giving AS a receiving, and because I have begun to experience both giving and receiving, as a simple exchange of Love.
I notice that whether I'm giving time, money or caring, or getting time, money and caring - the experience of either, is a full heart. If I'm clear that is! Sometimes I forget, and I can know that I've forgotten if there is stress, or tiredness, or emptiness present. If there is, all it means is that I am believing something about that giving or receiving that simply is not true, so I inquire within, and come back to life.
Lately I have been venturing to blur-the-lines-between. To step outside of the compartmentalization of "reality". To step back, to take a higher view, and to live in that view - just a little bit more. To withdraw a little bit of my investment in "reality" and what I think that means. To keep my feet on the ground and my head in the clouds - or my head on the ground and my feet in the clouds ;) - either way, my heart is always at the center.
"Reality" as we know it, is largely misunderstood. Reality is not a fact, or a hard and fast rule, it is a perspective on facts and events, it's in the eye of the beholder — nothing more. So why not dabble in it? Why not paint with it a little more freely? Why not stretch your canvas, your boundaries, and ideas of it? Why not blur-the-lines-between things, and experience it all as just another form Love takes?
When I say "Love" I mean grace, the universe, the tao, god, life, consciousness... whatever you want to call it. The presence of life that moves us all, and that we often forget we're being moved by. When I experience ALL of life as this, I come back to the present. Because what more magic could there be than that?
And if you're afraid the whole world will think you've gone mad — than I offer a line from my dear friend Alice:
"Do you think I've gone mad? Have I gone round the bend?" "I'm afraid so... but can I tell you a secret? — All the best people are."
I notice that the closer I get, and the clearer I get on giving and receiving, the more the lines between them blur, and at the center of things, there at the very heart of things - they merge completely, and I see that they're ONE.
So here is the letter I wrote to my parents, which personalizes all this hoo-ha a little bit more:
THINGS I CAN NEVER PAY YOU BACK FOR: (and no longer expect myself to - * I'll get to the reason why at the end)
1. The love, kindness, caring and support that you've given me every single day of my life, since the day I was born.
2. The hundred-thousand meals you've bought, lovingly prepared, and fed to me... with all of your heart.
3. The helping hand you've lent me, on countless occasions, from that first push on the swing-set, to dollars, files and paperwork.
4. For every minute of every hour and day you've spent meticulously planning a trip, booking campsites, hotel rooms, and meal-plans, taking care of all the details, so that we could all just show up and bask in the fruits of your loving action.
5. For every red-cent you've ever spent from your heart, just to bring me a joyful experience.
6. For every time you looked the other way and let me figure it out on my own. Because you knew I would.
7. For every cold towel on my hot head, and every hug when I needed one.
8. For every cup of milk, cup of juice, cup of wine, or cup of coffee you ever served me.
9. For every loving thought you had about me, when I wasn't even near, because you know I AM near, always.
10. For every book read, movie watched, or moment spent in rolling laughter.
11. For every sweet and golden moment that's made my life so rich!
12. For every not-so-sweet and not-so-golden moment that's made my life so rich!
Now to explain why I said "and I no longer expect myself to" :
You see, I had this belief, this lingering thought that I'll never have enough money, time, or resources to pay you back for all you've done and given. That I SHOULD have more to give. But then I saw what that thought did to me.
I saw how when I believed that thought, it didn't just hurt me because of the stress of it, it hurt me because it took me away from YOU! It hurt me because while I was busy defending what I "should be doing" or "should be giving back" in my head, I was MISSING the IMMENSITY OF THE GIFT THAT YOU ARE TO ME - and that you are constantly giving me.
While I was busy thinking I'm not worthy on some level, I was missing that apparently I AM worthy - because here you are.
When I believed that thought, I missed what an absolute joy it is for ME to give, in all the ways I can, and do give, and how you must feel the same way! It's like, if giving to those that I love makes ME feel this wonderful - why would I deny anyone else that same gift?
And when I realized this, I suddenly stopped feeling guilty, or like I had left some giant gap in you that I needed to fill back up, and I suddenly allowed myself to experience the depth and breadth of all you have given - unlike I have ever experienced it before.
I mean, I have been grateful before of course, to the point of tears! But this is something beyond grateful - like it is the most natural thing in the world, and yet, the most extraordinary thing in the world. I finally let myself be GIVEN all that you give... and talk about tears then!
I saw how I do this with Life too - it's like Life (god, the universe, whatever you want to call it) has given me SO much, what have I done to deserve it?! It's too much! I need to make it up to Life somehow, I need to "earn" it somehow — and in that, I just totally rob myself of the gifts I am constantly given. I rob myself of the experience of those gifts.
I don't let myself appreciate and enjoy them ALL THE WAY, because there's that little twinge of immediately trying to go in and fill what I think has gone missing in the world because of me, and what I've taken. And that seems disrespectful towards Life in a way, It most certainly cuts-me-off from Life, that's for sure. And besides, I wouldn't want my son to feel that way, I wouldn't want YOU to feel that way, I wouldn't want anyone to feel that way when I give to them, I want them to receive it all the way.
I want them to let themselves have it.
So that's why I'm going to stop this cycle with me, so I can pay you the respect, and ultimately the gift, of receiving what you labor so much to give - all the way.
I love you both so much, thank you for being my parents, thank you for being who you are - EXACTLY AS YOU ARE!
I understand now that our giving is our greatest joy, that our givingIS our receiving, and that my full receiving of your YOU-NESS is the greatest gift I could give back. :)
Love, Bethy-boo (and Sunni too) ;) haha.
** for those who don't know me personally, Beth (Elizabeth) is my first name and I went by that up until I was in Kindergarten when I started going by my middle name, which is Sunshine. My sisters name is Mary and our childhood nicknames were Mimi and Bethy-Boo, thus the signed name above, and thus my art prints and greeting cards line name: Mimi & Boo.