All of our lives we are fed the bromide, ‘it is better to give than to receive.’
Like most people, I grew up taking for granted that everyone would give me stuff, and resenting it when, suddenly people stopped giving to me, and I was expected to give in return.
It starts at the moment of your birth, this split activity of giving and receiving. Mother, that paragon of giving, GIVES you a great push – and suddenly – voila! There you are. On this earth and already screaming for someone (Mother) to give you sustenance…which she does in the form of milk that she happily takes from her own body in order to sustain yours. That seems fair so far – right?
But of course, in between Mother giving you a push and her milk, some doctor or nurse has voluntarily given you a good hearty smack on the behind to start you on you way.
You should have paid attention to that smack because along the way, you get lots of smacks attached to the giving and getting.
I would suggest that if you run the usual path between giving and getting, you are a happy taker until about age five, when all of a sudden people are yelling at you to (dreadful word) SHARE!
What ARE they thinking? So you fight. But you lose. Ultimately you share or they will never let you out of kindergarten. But you don’t have to like it. Getting was definitely better than this new bit about giving in return.
Then, somehow, you do something good for someone. One selfless act, later describe as “a random act of kindness.” Maybe you help an old lady across the street. Or you give a dollar to a not very good street musician just because he looks cold and hungry and you aren’t.
And guess what? It makes you feel really good about yourself. You have given something to someone “just because.” There is no instant return on that investment. Just the joy of having done the right thing.
So – now you are giving. Feel better?
Well, maybe for a while. People may look at you with a hint of admiration that was missing when you were a taker. Now you are a giver…and one step closer to sainthood. Or maybe, and this possibility does exist, you are resented for giving.
I learned about the resentment one day when a usually peaceful and accepting friend of mine came bursting into my house…or as close as he could come to bursting, confined as he was to a wheelchair.
“Damn it. Why can’t people leave me alone? Why can’t they just let me do the few things I can do for myself instead of insisting on helping me?”
There. A whole new element is introduced into this giving and getting paradox. When is it better to watch someone struggle than to offer help? When are you a selfish bastard for walking across a street, unencumbered by illness or age, and leaving the blind man on the curb, waiting? And how do you know?
So now we have reached a point where it doesn’t seem to be a good idea to give or to receive. And there in lies the lesson. There is a long pause here while I try to imagine what the lesson is.
Perhaps the lesson is that all of this give and take has been helping you get ready to be the caretaker. Caretaker. The word is practically a cliché these days. Almost everyone will, at some time, become the giver instead of the getter. And the men and women who gave us life or taught us how to meet it, now must become takers.
It isn’t an easy change, on either end of the equation. But perhaps it is the best example of giving and getting. You give where it is most needed and what you get back is that feeling that you have done the right thing, for all the right reasons. And you take, because you must and you celebrate that someone loves you enough to want to do this for you.
Put most simply: Once again, LOVE is the answer.
And now, as I promised, a new feature.
There are a great many things about Facebook that I don’t like. I don’t like the spell check that changes my words to suit itself…or the opportunities so many people take to write really unpleasant things about other readers and writers.
But there is also something totally grand about it.
Take for instance the chance Facebook gave me to see some of the astounding pictures Bobill Weaver has taken over the years of all the birds that seem to follow him wherever he goes.
I’ve never thought enough about birds to consider how wonderful an invention they are, but lordy, they do add beauty to the world and Bobill has captured a great deal of it for our pleasure on Facebook. It is a great gift.
So, for the next six months, I am going to share some of the pictures Bobill has shared with his followers. I think you will be astounded by their great variety.
He has selected some of his own favorites and written a bit about each picture. We start with his Female Blue Heron. Enjoy, please. Betty.
This female Great Blue Heron is waiting for her mate to return with more nest-building materials at a rookery in Venice, Florida. When he arrives with the goods, she will take the materials from him and arrange their nest.
For the photobugs among us: Bobill took this with a zoom lens @560mm; camera mounted on a tripod.