We are showered every day with gifts, but they are not meant for us to keep. Their life is in their movement, the inhale and the exhale of our shared breath. Our work and our job is to pass along the gift and to trust what we put out into the universe will always come back. –From Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
I’ve read this passage over and over again. The first time, it struck me with such truth that I closed the book and put it aside. I tossed and turned the idea around in my mind, feeling the very edges of it. I believe it calls for us to imagine ourselves as conduits for the joys and sorrows of life to enter and pass through. Incorporating this idea into my daily life has given me significant peace and a quiet joy. The world truly is full of gifts, if only we stop to fully appreciate and consider them.
I think there are two main ways we can fail the gifts given to us. Firstly, we can fail gifts by not noticing their presence. To avoid this, we must slow down and become mindful of the things around us. In this purposefulness and mindfulness we are open to seeing and receiving gifts. Secondly, we fail gifts when we fail to gently release that which is no longer meant for us. When our focus becomes gripping things so tightly, for fear of losing it, we lose the joy of the gift in the fear of losing it. So, in our fear of losing the gift that fear becomes reality. Now consider the approach Ms. Kimmerer suggests. We accept the gift, let it fill our bodies and souls with the very appreciation of it and then let it pass on. In this we are confident that we have recognized and honored this gift because we have given it back to the universe.
I’ve most recently incorporated this idea in my own life through the gift of citrus; clementines that I found in a huge, unromantic, cardboard bin at the farmers market. Beautiful bright citrus is one of my favorite parts of winter. It always seems to appear exactly when I need it– small spots of brightness in the midst of days that can be cold and gray and bleak. Round, shiny, perfectly orange outsides (with the leaves still attached) give way to the most delicious citrus I’ve ever tasted. In peeling them, I inhale deeply and appreciate that first burst of citrus scent. With Ms. Kimmerer’s words in mind I seek to share this gift I have been given. My imperfect instinct is to buy and eat every last one. Instead, I tell an older lady pondering them beside me how good they are, so she can get some for herself. I leave some of the ones I did purchase in my spouse’s lunchbox, with friends, and on the desks of coworkers.
If you’d like to try to incorporate this idea in your own life: strive to be more conscious and appreciative of gifts that you are given. Allow the joy and gratitude to fill you and then give it back. Stop to think, and consider, and be mindfully appreciative of the small gifts you are given. If it helps you, try journaling about this appreciation, it could be as simply as jotting down gratitude for gifts you were given that day each night before bed. Recognize, appreciate and give back.
Book Recommendations: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
That is the fundamental nature of gifts; they move, and their value increases with their passage… The more something is shared, the greater its value becomes. – Kimmerer