Tao Te Ching – Chapter 53
It takes just a tiny bit of willingness to follow this path,
but many things distract us.
This path is broad and steady,
but we are conditioned to follow our thoughts down countless sidetracks.
Those who can afford distractions gather them by the carload,
while the basic needs of most go unmet.
The accumulation of luxuries is contrary to this path.
It is a futile attempt to find happiness by taking that which is not freely given.
In an economy where making money is a basic premise, the idea of “freely given” seems absurd. Yet Nancy and I are discovering a whole world of “gift” residing underneath the rat race of accumulation and distraction. Over the past few years we have been gradually dropping distractions and sidetracks. We have stopped the unconscious conditioned attempt to buy happiness through accumulation. This has led us to what some might call a “precarious” financial life, but it has also opened us to a new sense of economic life – that of “gift economy.”
We seek to give what is ours to give through our life, writing, and work. We don’t charge fees. Into our life has poured generosity beyond measure. We left much of our furniture and household goods with the house when we moved to a motor home last December because the family that moved in were survivors of the Paradise Fire and had lost everything. A week ago they contacted us, telling us that they were moving on to a permanent home and would we like some of the tools we had left. We were in great need of those tools in order to care for the land on which we are living.
Winter snow clothes, financial support, gifts, encouragement, and all sorts of blessings have poured into our life. We are experiencing a circle of generosity – of giving and receiving without counting the benefits or fearing the lacks. It is a vulnerable way of living, but as Brené Brown has so eloquently stated in her viral TED talk, “Vulnerability is necessary for whole-hearted living!”