The Gift of Exchange



The act of giving and receiving looks EXACTLY the same. It also mimics the act of caving and taking. One person puts their hand out to give and one person puts their hand out to receive. In caving and taking, one person extends his hand and caves, the other shoves their hand out to take. Or one person shoves his hand  and the other extends his hand to be taken. While all these exchanges look exactly the same, they are all quite different.


Have you ever felt like you were being taken? And on the flip side, have you ever felt like you were being given? Have you ever felt like you gave out of pity? Have you ever felt like you had to take out of misfortune? All of these exchanges feel like utter crap. They make you feel like you are the lesser person. While these exchanges all look the same, with both hands being out, they create imbalance with one party becoming the controller and the other party feeling controlled. They feel like your self-esteem has been gutted. And yet they mimic the exact behavior as the opposite of that exchange called giving and receiving. They both look like giving and receiving but they are nothing like that exchange at all.


So how do we change this exchange to be an authentic experience, rather than a manipulative unspoken dialogue? To truly understand how giving works, lets look at the word. The word Give in the dictionary means: Love, affection, emotional support. It also means to freely transfer the possession of something to someone. It is a FREE experience filled with love and heart. It has no agenda or motive. There are no deals or strings attached that one receives when he is in giving mode.


It is an experience for the sake of becoming closer with the other individual. (Please read that again. And again. Memorize it if you have to.)

Caving on the other hand feels like being taken, it does not feel like giving. It feels manipulated, it is often expressed the same way, with giving someone something, but it does not carry the same nurturing feeling that giving has. There is no affection attached, rather there is usually guilt, responsibility stemming from remorse or regret and it almost always sleeps with his buddy Shame to get that action going.


In that experience both parties don’t feel closer they feel worlds apart.


On the other hand lets look at the word Receiver. The dictionary describes the word receiver as a person who gets or accepts something that has been sent or given to them. In other words, he also has no agenda to this reception. He is merely in acceptance of the giver’s love and authentic expression of being bestowed his gift. This creates an honest closeness that bonds the two parties even closer together. It also allows that receiver to give back the giver the same amount of love and acceptance. In that exchange it is an  EQUAL opportunity exchange.


When giving and receiving happens no one is in control. NO one is better then the other. Both are equally experiencing something dynamic, real, and equally loving. In that exchange BOTH ARE RECEIVING.


Now lets look at the word Taker. The word taking means removing someone or something. When a person receives a gift from someone who feels obligated, he feels like a taker, like a person who has gained this possession by force rather than by equal loving agreement. And when a person gives because he feels obligated, that party also feels like he is being taken, he feels like his possession has been captured rather than received with dignity. In these instances both parties feel less worthy because they assume the other party is more worthy. It is laced with shame and despair, rather than uplifted with joy and love. Both feel “captured,” which leads to feeling trapped. It feels like shit.


To truly master the art of giving, one must always feel like his giving has nothing to do with receiving later, but only with the art of connecting deeply with the person he has been fortunate enough to connect with. It has nothing to do with becoming more important, it has nothing to do with becoming more attached to a later reward. It has everything to do with the attachment itself becoming the very reward he receives from the art of giving.


To master the art of receiving one must feel a great sense of dignity. Being on the receiving end is not always easy, because of the “Trapped” feeling many have associated with it. Receiving takes JUST as much work of connecting deeply as the giver is required to attain. The giver can only accomplish his loving gesture if the receiver is welcoming him into the warmth he so hopes to create.


For both parties to be in good will, both parties must feel equally free, equally opened to receive love and acceptance, equally opened to allow dignity to be the only part of that experience and equally free to express their true authentic selves.


If either party feels more in control or less than, as a result of the exchange, it means the exchange was probably tainted with ego, self-importance and a deeply broken sense of what it means to be a giver or a receiver.


The equality of this exchange is what creates the greatest experience for both parties. It creates balance, it creates symmetry, equality, affection, trust, and it transforms us. If we are giving or receiving and the only transformation it musters is a feeling of despair, we must figure that exchange was probably unhealthy and laced with enabling destructive behavior  we might want to end.


This holiday season, as we enter the dynamic that creates the connection of exchange, take a minute, think about how that exchange makes you feel. It might mean the difference of becoming a giver vs a caver or a receiver vs a taker.








Miraculous Living

Dedicated to my Uncle David who never seizes to positively live by miraculous thinking. 

Are miracles real? Or are we just fools hoping to achieve an impossible outcome that might beat the odds? Are we truly meant for greatness that can excel past the doubts and natural order we are accustomed to? Were we ever meant to live in a confined configuration, or were we meant to birth the miracle that overcomes sickness, and other overwhelming odds just by believing in them?
On the one hand, our life has natural order, and there are only few possible options and outcomes to our struggles. Sometimes the outcomes are grim. They are in alignment with the statistics and symmetry that we are born into this natural world with. At the same time, we have this pulsating knowledge that has never been proven only witnessed sparingly that there’s a larger story at work here. That we are capable of tapping into this infrastructure of energy that is beyond equalizing figures and above our comprehension. So which is it? Are we bound to nature or are we capable of miracles? 

As my daughter reminded me, to see something is not the same as believing, because if we were seeing it, we wouldn’t have to believe. But why were we given this constant very frustrating exercise- That we only get the privilege of seeing but not of believing as part of our natural muscle?

During this time of year, we contemplate our ability to see the impossible dreams that create our miracles. We look past the natural and demand something more. In this bright hour, we yearn to see the miracles that we believe this world is capable of giving us. I think the reason we were given doubt is for one reason and one reason alone. If we were sure of miracles, they wouldn’t be called miraculous. If we were positive that another Higher Energy existed all the time, we would never struggle or yearn for greatness. There is something magical that happens to the human being when we are in struggle. We hope. We imagine. We create.

Visualize a world where hope does not exist. We would never try or yearn or reach. We would never be challenged or strive for more. We would become completely comfortable with mediocrity.
Hope has the ability to propel our struggle into initiation. It gives us the ability to get outside of our comfort zone and realize that today, while the moment feels grim and while we might even feel angry or frail by the uphill battle our lives are now taking, we are far from helpless. We have hope as our guide to see us out of these dark moments. We have hope to light the path of the unknown and realize a new future, a different future, a future that has the opportunity to connect with others. A future that has the possibility to realize things about ourselves and our loved ones we never tapped into or even knew existed. A miraculous future we know nothing about. Yet. 

The problem with believing in these “miraculous outcomes” is that we risk it all. We risk our expectations getting crushed. We risk becoming more crushed than we started. I have heard people say, “Why bother risking the better outcome, when I can remain comfortable with the knowledge of the outcome I have already become accustomed to? It’s too scary!” 
Really though? Are we seriously comfortable with this troubled outcome right now? Because we know we’re not comfortable at all- we are down right flipping unsettled, frustrated and frightened all the time! Here’s a thought, It’s more scary to not dare at all. Its more scary to stay in that horribly negative and frightening place- THAT is what’s scary. 

Here’s what happens when we dare. We create NEW outcomes. Miracles are those moments that happen that we least expect, but they are also the moments that we drive. A miracle is that incredible split second that our hopes and dreams morph into a reality. Some would call it that spark inside our souls that now wishes to touch us with physical effort. Others would call it a mystery. And still others might call it a coincidence, or a colliding of happenstance. Either way, I’d rather live foolishly knowing that my sensation for wonder is a muscle I wouldn’t give up for the world, because it means I have the ability to realize my outcome especially in those moments when I don’t feel like that outcome is tangible.

So no, I don’t think we were meant to live in a “confined configuration.” I think we were meant to seek something more despite the “confined configuration.” For to realize our potential is to become capable beings who can create possibilities and outcomes we never imagined, but that we set in motion unconsciously. The power of the miracle is our ability to reach outside ourselves and presuppose a new outcome. The power of the miracle gives us back our trust. The power of the miracle gives us back our confidence. It takes away our anger. It holds us accountable. It aspires us to live awake. It has no room to allow us to live alone. It creates capabilities inside our hearts we unveil through aspiration and desire that creates possibility. The power of the miracle is way too important to dismiss, way too important to dissolve and so important to notice. Today, and just for today, try hoping for a miracle. Try imagining. Try reaching. Try risking it all. Try DARING. See what happens.