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January 11, 2009


New Year's Day at Dillon Beach 2009

New Year's Day at Dillon Beach 2009

Thanks to a new friend, I am choosing a word of intent for 2009. The word this year is “Gift”. I am reading a book called The Gift, which discusses the history of the gift economies of the world, as opposed to barter or the money economy that we know today in this country.  It also discusses the work of artists and writers and their roles. The blurb on the back of the book describes it: “By now a modern classic, The Gift is a brilliant defense of the value of creativity and its importance in a culture increasingly governed by money and overrun with commodities. Widely available again, this book is even more necessary today than when it first appeared. Illuminating, transformative, and completely original in its view of the world, The Gift is cherished by artists, writers, musicians, and thinkers. It is a gift to all who discover the classic wisdom found in its pages.”

I have thought a lot about gifts lately. I am not one to give gifts that often and I don’t receive them as graciously as I could. I was raised with a very independent attitude. This book has made me think about the role of gifting in our lives, with objects and with creativity—how it ties people together (one indigenous marriage ritual involved gifts to almost every distant and close relative you could think of, effectively tying the families together permanently!); how it evokes feelings of family or creates bonds of obligation; how it stabilizes community. 

Gifts can be physical objects, like wrapped up presents or they can be artworks or writing that people can enjoy, or they can be nonphysical, like helping someone, or listening. I just ran across someone who described God pouring himself into her so she could pour herself into others. I think of the universe doing that exact thing all the time and hope for more of it this year. I am sure there are many other ways to think of a gift that I will be discovering as the year progresses.

This year, as I think about the many levels of the word gift, I will be starting with the most obvious ones, giving physical gifts to loved ones. My first two goals are:

1) I will be donating to a different organization in my community each month.

2) I will give friends gifts when I think of it, instead of talking myself out of it (it’s not their birthday, etc).

I’m looking forward to seeing where this leads!

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