Friday, January 8, 2010

We See Things As We Are

I'm changing my tune these days; at least I'm trying to cultivate a new perspective. Ironically, I read this quote yesterday while I was in the midst of my "giving act" for the day: babysitting for my sister. I found the quote in a calendar she had hanging on her fridge. I had jumped ahead to see what the quote on my birthday was and this is what I found:

We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are.
Anais Nin

It’s suiting because as my week of giving continues, I continue to have a shift in attitude. For example, the other night when I was walking home from work, I experienced complete joy. So strangely complete I didn't want to take too much time to consider why I was so utterly happy. It was 8 pm. I was just leaving work after deadline, and the snow was seeping in to my shoes. Perhaps it was the peacefulness of the city or that the only other person I saw out walking downtown, strangely enough, was a friend I knew. Whatever it was, I was on cloud 9 and there was nothing that could get me down. I didn’t have a care in the world.

Last night I closed my yearly book club hosting chapter and I must admit, the night was a success. Eight woman gathered around our hearth to laugh and wax intelligent. I had a lovely meat and cheese platter loaded with fig cake with almonds (a glorified version of a fig newton) and parrano cheese, as well as prosciutto and mustard seed cheese. I was bringing a big cheese game. The dessert tray had a bowl of fresh raspberries and blueberries (for color and surprisingly flavourful and in season) Mexican wedding cookies (not as fluffy as I prefer, but seemingly suitable for breakfast), two-bite brownies, and mint milanos (really they need to represent every now an then).

The book choice was 29 Gifts by Cami Walker. Surprisingly, we had a longer, good conversation about giving and receiving in general. Some of these questions weren't posed but are good considerations I want to share:
  • What constitutes a gift?
    Or is the mere act of acknowledging a connection made between you and another person the true gift?
  • Do you have to be acknowledged as the giver to “give” something?
    Or is a gift something done anonymously?
  • How much of giving is about receiving?
    And how hard is it, as an American (and as a woman for that matter) in our uber-competitive society, to receive from others?
  • Where do you draw the line on giving too much to the point where you loose yourself?
    Is it possible to give too much?
  • How does giving affect our health?
    Would we all see physical improvements if we cultivated more positive energy?

As I continue to give, I continue to recognize in others things I never noticed before. I also note myself in conversation and find how I respond or react and what I contribute or withhold. I will say this, focusing on giving makes me boatloads more present: sometimes I forget to ask about other people’s lives or their children or their careers; sometimes I forget to bring up thoughts I meant to share and later skip a beat aching to go back to the moment. This thought resurfaced after the ladies left: it’s a gift we give ourselves to meet each month to gather and discuss something intelligent and creative and thought provoking or just to be silly; to take time out and share a bit of ourselves with other women whose lives we might not otherwise touch, except for the occasional camaraderie of standing in a grocery store line.

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