I was thinking about the notion of ‘giving’ during my late night run today. Perhaps it was triggered by the spirit of Christmas … with images of Santa delivering gifts to kids who are eagerly waiting. And then I pondered about my attitude towards giving … how selfish or selfless I have been when I give, when I have been generous and when I held back, and how I feel towards professional fundraisers who earn a living by taking a commission out of the donation they collect for charity organisations that otherwise may not have benefitted, who will I give or not give to, how much will I give, etc.
As I kept on running and pondering, a familiar message came to mind: “You can only give what you have.” How true. Give what we have. It need not always be MONEY (in fact that’s the easiest thing to give away, especially excess money). Something else that we all have is TIME, except that we get so busy these days that we hardly have enough time for ourselves, let alone to give some away. But unlike money, time isn’t something we could physically handover to another. When we dig deeper, it’s actually ATTENTION that we are giving. When we make time for people whom we care about, we give them attention. And what do we really attend to?
Here’s my conclusion: it all boil down to attending to another’s NEEDS. In essence, the act of giving becomes truly meaningful and fruitful when in doing so, we attend to the needs of the recipient, and not our own need to be generous or charitable. If we were to put all these insights back into the context of the earlier message of “You can only give what you have,” one of the most important thing that we do already HAVE is the capacity to attend to another’s needs as well as our own.
Now, I know this may sound a little circular and perplexing … try something out, will you? Look around you and pick someone, think about what this person really need right now, and do something to attend to this need (it could be a hug, a smile, a helping hand, or even a few dollars).
Enjoy the gift of giving … that’s my gift for you today!
Your Giving Dad