We know that, right? And usually when we’re talking about giving, the focus is on charity donations of some kind, whether that be monetary, time, etc.
But there’s a deeper essence to giving. The very best thing you can ever give is of yourself.
I’m not talking about the time-and-money category. You were put here for a reason, no? That can be a “grand” reason, such as becoming President, etc. But in no way does it have to be. You matter—or you wouldn’t be here. Each and every one of us has within something truly important to give, for the betterment of the world.
That’s the whole point of the Quest series, of the hero’s quest in general. What we learn from undertaking it is what we bring back to everybody else. It’s the return of the potion, whether that be the Holy Grail itself or a new understanding, from which others benefit.
And you don’t really understand the value you gleaned until you do give it away. As all the great teachers say, “I learned so much more from my students than I taught them.” A lot of that goes back to actually understanding, on a deeper level, what you teach.
By saving ourselves, in whatever manner, be it getting more fit, giving up a vice, writing that book, becoming that teacher, whatever it may be, you’re giving back to the betterment of mankind.
I cannot even begin to count all the women who contacted me when By the Book was published, saying it gave them the courage to leave an abusive marriage. If Nettie could do it, so could they!
But that wasn’t why I thought I was writing the book! And doing so was a definite quest. I thought I dived into it because the characters came to me. I realized upon finishing the first draft that I really wrote it to understand why I’d found myself in that situation—but had no clue such was the impetus until the draft was done. We writers are an odd lot. LOL.
As Joseph Campbell said, however, of saving yourself: “But in doing that, you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalizes . . . The world without spirit is a wasteland.”
It just is.
So often when we (women) focus on ourselves, we feel as though we’re being selfish. Sociologists and psychologists disagree on exactly why this is so, e.g., whether it’s cultural conditioning or inherent in our species. Doesn’t really matter though right now, does it? We as women are afflicted with that caring gene, which on the flip side carries the self-deprecating one, more than men.
But by not focusing on the thing that we were put here to do, the quest of our hearts, the paradox is—that’s the ultimate in selfishness. Because then the world cannot receive your gifts. Pity. Because the world today can sure use all the gifts we can bring it.
Especially those from women. I’m not discounting men here, but their talents have been touted for centuries! I’m talking rather about those quieter gifts that women bring. The ones that can now save this crazy world.
So just give. Of yourself. By becoming yourself. And therein lies the true meaning of what giving means.
That’s what all the great myths and stories teach. Again, they’re about the experience of life—our lives, and the ones who came before us.
Joseph Campbell (and yes, I’ve unabashedly adored him for decades now) finished the sentiment with:
“People have the notion of saving the world by shifting things around, changing the rules, and who’s on top, and so forth. No, no! Any world is a valid world if it’s alive. The thing to do is bring life to it, and the only way to do that is to find in your own case where the life is and become alive yourself.”
So go forth and do that thing within you. Then give it back to a sorely in-need world.