There is a cold quiet in the pit of your stomach when you are home alone, in your nice house, surrounded by your nice things. It’s why you turn on the lights, the TV, the computer, anything to make noise. Anything to distract.
We feel it when we’re in our cars, driving to work. It’s why we blast the radio and call a friend to gossip, talk about the girl at the desk next to ours, the weather, our plans for the weekend. Anything to keep the quiet from creeping in.
We’re trying to avoid it with our headphones, and facebooks, and twitters, and websites, and texting, and talking, and running from place to place, and scheduling lunches, and dinners, and work meetings, and soccer practice, and errands.
It’s why we gulp down alcohol, pop pills and smoke up. It’s sex with strangers, and anyone who will come home. It’s endless shopping and buying. We’ll do anything to fill the void.
We’re criminals on the loose, always on the move, running scared.
Terrified to slow down, stand still, be quiet, because that’s when it creeps in,
that’s when it hits us,
An aching loneliness that can only come from a severed connection with each other,
with the land,
and God itself.
It’s a loneliness so enormous that it travels from generation to generation, haunting us through the years.
It’s a loneliness so cold that some of us can’t take it, become depressed, even wish to die, want to take our own lives, do take our own lives.
But the more we try to run from it, the stronger it gets. With each new gadget, new phone, new device, new screen, promising to connect us,
We become more disconnected, more separate, more alone. More afraid of each other, more angry, more sick, and more sad.
And the loneliness grows and grows. It tries to freeze us solid, like sparkling blocks of ice, each of us cut-off from the world in our own cold shell.
But I’m here saying there is a way to beat this thing.
That the only way to fight this terrible, soul crushing loneliness,
is to face it.
To let the ice come rushing in,
feel it tingling in our fingers, and slowing down our hearts.
We must watch our breath turn to puffs of frost, and feel our toes grow numb,
And just when we think we can’t take it anymore, that the weight of this terrible loneliness will steal our last breath, turn our crimson blood to ruby ice crystals,
We will stop.
We will turn to each other with frozen tears on our cheeks,
we will join hands, cold fingers intertwined,
we will sit down on the ground and feel the earth move beneath us,
and we will begin to
The 40 Days of Giving
So the way I see it, the only way to thaw our frozen hearts is to reconnect, reconnect, reconnect.
To the land,
to the other creatures on this planet,
and to each other.
In a very real and physical way. By spending time, by getting to know one another, and by giving away.
By giving away our time, our attention, our things, and our love.
In many indigenous cultures, the people live by a gifting economy. When you have something to give, you give it.
It’s as simple as that.
Instead of accumulating, collecting, and hoarding,
you lend, and share, and give away.
I want to see what happens when we stop
and instead let ourselves
by our passions, by our relationships, by our love.
So I’m challenging myself to commit to 40 days of giving.
Each day, I will give something. My time, my attention, my money, my energy, my things.
I want to see what happens to my brain and body, and soul
when I switch from taker,
I want to see what happens when I reach out to other people, creatures, and the land.
I want to be the guinea pig, to see if the terrible, soul crushing loneliness can be destroyed, done away with forever,
I want to break down my walls, rearrange my brain, shatter old patterns and paradigms.
I want to push myself, I want to stretch my boundaries,
I want to GROW.
And I’d like to invite you to grow with me.
So here’s how we’ll do it. We’ll start on November 22nd, and end on December 31st.
I’ll think of and write a Giving Challenge for each day. We can do some of them, or all of them, and we can pick and choose.
We will share our experiences here, on the facebook page, and face to face.
We will invite others to join us. Many, many others. We will tell coworkers and friends, family, and neighbors, strangers on the streets. We will tell the papers, tell the news. We will tell anyone who will listen. And they, in turn, will tell others.
And, as always, we will start small, and go from there. And help each other, of course.
So here are the first five challenges. I’ll post some more tomorrow, and the rest the next day. We’ll print them out, we’ll hang them up, we’ll check them off.
We will try our best, we will give it our all.
We will challenge ourselves,
we will challenge each other,
we will challenge the world.
THANK YOU for listening,
Here are the first 5 Giving Challenges. Day one will start on NOV.22nd. I will post more tomorrow, and the rest the next day. Share far and wide, and far again.
Give something away.
Something that you own. A book, a mixed CD, a painting, a keepsake, a pair of socks. Anything you want. Give it to anyone you want. The girl at the coffee shop, your father, the kid down the block with the red jacket, your best friend. Notice what it feels like, this act of giving. See how it makes you feel.
Give yourself some time.
By yourself. 1 hour at least. Without your phone, computer, headphones, or any screen. Without distractions. Read a book, take a bath, go to your sit spot, go for a run. Lay down and do nothing, write a story. Be with yourself. Lose yourself. Find yourself.
Give someone a meal.
Not just any meal. The best meal you can possibly make, with the finest ingredients you can manage. Invite your friends over, take it to your neighbor, make it for your long lost brother. Or treat yourself. Let yourself be blown away by the textures, by the tastes, by the conversations they bring. Get lost in the process. Be consumed.
Give your attention
Give your attention to a project you’ve been meaning to work on; a mural, an article, a new floor in your dining room, a new garden bed. A photography show, a documentary film, organizing a rally. THROW YOURSELF INTO IT, lose track of time, go nuts. Create.
Give away something you’ve made.
By hand. Each loving stitch, each thoughtful line. A knitted sweater, a handmade card, a jar of jelly. A painting, a loaf of bread, a pair of pants. Whatever you want. Yes, it took a long time to make. Yes, you love it. Now let it go, let it go, let it go.
ok, that’s the first five. Simple right? Digest them, get ready for them, make your plans. More to come tomorrow.