There are few things in life that give me so much pleasure as giving – giving freely, within my limits, to appreciating people, animals and plants. Giving makes you feel lighter.
When I was leaving Germany, I had this great old car, an orange audi sedan with forest green interior. It needed a liter of oil with every tank of gas. But it got me all over the country. And it made me so happy with its colors and its attitude.
But I was heading back to the states, ready to regroup, start over and yes, look for work. I didn’t have much to sell. The few things I had I was mailing home and another friend was taking my bigger pieces. The rest, I started giving away until I had nothing except this old orange clunker of a car with a Mike Dukakis bumper sticker in a country where very few people could vote for him. I thought about selling it. Maybe I would make $500, but I had 2 weeks left of work where I would have to find transport otherwise. And I would spend one or two days in processing to get the papers ready to sell. And then there was the advertising and meeting people etc. After all that moving, the thought of selling exhausted me.
Sitting at my desk, I thought about what I would do as I watched my secretary come in late, like just about every day. She had no car. She took the bus from the train. I noticed how tired she looked after the commute. She was one of the army wives. I was working for the army as a civilian but she was working because she was there with her husband. She had 2 kids at home and when he would go away she was on her own with the kids and the commute. As she dropped a stack of papers on my desk and said, “Guten Morgan”, I got this great idea. I would use the car until my last day and then I would give it to her.
She was so excited. Her husband was a mechanic, thankfully. She even drove me to the airport and waved happily from the curb as I left to start a new life. I could tell she felt free in that car. I wanted that for her, even if it only lasted a little while. But even better was how I felt. When I gave the car to her, I felt so wonderful. It was like I had released a part of me that I had not really acknowledged before – giving things away. In this life we are so programmed to accumulate and sell, that it becomes difficult to just give. And sometimes, if you do the math, it benefits you to give rather than sell or keep. As I gave her the car I heard people in my mind saying, “she won’t appreciate it”, “she’ll just wreck the car”, “you could have gone back with a little more cash”. And I pushed all those thoughts from my mind and said, “here you go. Take this car with my love”. I can only remember a handful of times when I felt better.
Now, living in Mexico, I do the same. There is lots of need here and I don’t have the same facility with money or “stuff” as I used to. That is part of why I moved here. And I have learned that you need to be careful with giving but when I can and it is right, I give. Sometimes it is food, sometimes clothes or shoes, sometimes just my time or a lift in my car, sometimes it is work. I give and I am left with a glow that makes me feel so much lighter, so much richer actually.
So try it. Let go of something that you don’t need or that isn’t serving you in this moment, and give it away. It doesn’t have to be a car or something big. It can be as little as a smile or a handshake. It can be a few coins to a musician in the subway or on the corner. It can be someone who needs help getting on the bus. Look for someone who needs something, and just say, “I would like to give you this”. Give wisely and with love and feel the glow. Then let that glow fill the space where the thing used to be.