Giving sincerely without a smidgen of wanting or expecting something in return, that’s a type of action that I can’t honestly say I have much experience with. I have a hunch that the closest I can get to see what it’s like to give without any strings attached is when I look at my daughter, who does things in a way that’s much closer to being real than myself. She doesn’t have the type of thing that asking makes her feel bad and she doesn’t have this anticipation for a reward when she’s giving something. These are my conditions. She kind of gives naturally like its part of her play, its seamless and spontaneous.
So, a simple example was when she was asking me to put on a DVD she likes, then she goes and just gives me a massage with the wooden massage thing, and she says “Daddy I’m going to give you a massage”. She does that really lightly, so I don’t feel like I’m getting a proper massage 🙂 but its making me laugh and then she just goes on and starts jumping on and off the couch again.
Its so free, there’s not this type of thing that makes her plan to give as I often do. There’s no weighing up whether its worth it, whether she’s got time to, whether she’s going to get any appreciation out of it, nothing like that at all.
But those sort of considerations go through my mind, and then on top of that I look at myself and my thinking patterns and I feel a bit ashamed. You know when I’ve been “helping” someone and I start thinking about how I’m not getting any recognition for it, then I start to imagine how I’m not really appreciated by the person, then the fears about whether I’m being used or taken for granted come up, and I catch it and say to myself, “hold on, is this really true, if I was sincerely giving of myself, would I even be thinking like this?”
So that’s the type of round about processes I go through and it makes it so difficult sometimes just to feel free with what I do, its far from spontaneous.
There’s not just strings of expectation attached to others when I want to give something, but a whole host of strings are attached to myself. These are the one’s that want me to be a caring individual for instance, the good Catholic boy who is a “man for others” which is part of my personal indoctrination.
A man for others
That’s a motto of St Ignatius who had a redemption from being a soldier and decided his life was better when he was giving to people rather than killing them. That’s great but I’m no saint, and I’m a little suspect of the Jesuit tradition he founded too, maybe though it was corrupted afterwards like a lot of movements are when they become institutions. But there’s that deep mistrust for authority figures again – a lot of pain under that.
What eats me up though. is knowing I was once a free kid, I’d ask for things when I wanted things without the guilt, I’d give things without the barter in mind, I’d just not think so god damn much about it either. Albeit this was a long long time ago, and its sad really because in my heart I feel there’s a purity to my desires, an ability that’s no so well explored but I feel its there.
It’s a distant thing for sure, perhaps a dream of a better me, but like most loving things I find hard to accept in myself, I get glimpses of it, glimpses that make me believe that I can be there, that I can know how to love, not as a concept but a way of being, just like a child. It’s something to strive for anyway.
It’s what I hope to strive for more because I can at least see it’s sort of like a key to the jail door that I can open whenever I please, not by chance, not just a glimpse of the door being open and shutting on me again, but open whenever I decide to wander in or out of the jail freely.
If that’s what it is, in the end it’s not a jail then either, and my jail too can’t have any power over me. That’s something worth striving for.