Belief in the Giveaway can be traced back to the North American Indian nations of the high plains. Our personal, sacred Giveaway is what we alone have come to contribute to life, our reason for being. Knowing and honoring your Giveaway imbues life with a sense of meaning and belonging, a sense of direction.
Everything is born knowing its Giveaway: trees and birds, stars and flowers know their Giveaway. Nothing is here at random. Everything belongs. Only humans are born not knowing their Giveaway, not remembering why they are here and how they belong.
From earliest infancy the Giveaway of each child can be seen and discerned by others. Helping every child recognize its unique Giveaway, its unique place of belonging is one of the most important functions of The Elders and the tribe. They observe the baby with stillness and patience. They look for signs with caring and watchful eyes. What is the baby drawn to? What draws its interest, what calms it? What makes it laugh with joy and what causes it sorrow or pain? What gifts come easily to it, what qualities are natural to it? They dream dreams for the baby that offer insight about the baby’s nature and its Giveaway. There is much help to come home to yourself.
No one says “good job” to such a child, no one influences the recognition that can only come from within by their approval and praise or their disapproval and criticism. Everyone helps the child to listen. The Giveaway of each child is a shared discovery, different for every child, every man and every woman. All Giveaways matter.
Our western experience is, of course, quite different. I recently went to visit a young friend and meet her 3-month-old son. When I arrived I found the baby sitting in a cloth jumper seat on the kitchen table watching “BABY EINSTEIN” on a laptop. Around him on the table were many brightly colored and noisy toys. As we talked and had a cup of tea together the young mother presented her son with toy after toy, taking one away and offering him another every few minutes. At my questioning look she laughed “Its the newest theory.” she told me, “The forming brain is highly plastic and needs constant stimulation.” By the time our tea was over I had learned that the baby was already registered for a prestigious private high school, Class of 2029, and letters had been written in his behalf to Princeton by his grandfathers both alumni of that institution. Other august Princeton graduates had been asked to write letters as well, the young mother told me. Chances looked good. I looked at this little boy wondering why he had come. Hoping he might someday be able to discover his Giveaway despite the powerful messages he would be given about who he was and how he was to be from the very beginning.
The closer we are able to live to our own unique Giveaway the stronger and more resilient we are despite external pressures, the more passionately and joyfully we can live, the deeper the satisfaction we feel in our daily lives and the greater the difference we can make in the world.
These ideas hold a certain magnetism for me now. What if you could find and follow your Giveaway at any age? And what if you could find your tribe, the people who watch and listen and help you to give birth to yourself? What if you already knew many such people but had not recognized why you were drawn to them? What if you could help others in this way as well? What if you did not need some catastrophic event like an illness or the loss of a loved one to finally remember who you are and why you are here?
At 77 I have decided to do only what I am drawn to do. To discover what is my authentic path. I have learned something about it from these long years of living but I have never given myself permission to follow it with all of my heart. I had thought that my profession was my Giveaway but a profession is only one way to offer a Giveaway and often it is not the best way. There are many ways to offer your Giveaway.
The best way I know to learn something is to invite others to join into a search for the thing I am searching for. So I will be offering a new workshop this Fall, and I have asked one of the wisest people I know, my cousin Mark, a founding member of my Giveaway tribe to join me in teaching this workshop.
Walking the Path with Heart is simply an exploration of the nature of your Giveaway… a look at familiar events and choices with new eyes… a recognition of previously unseen threads which are not random or peripheral but are the path itself. A remembering.
I invite you to join Mark and I in this exploration of that which is your beginning.
October 1st -3rd, 2015
The Acqua Hotel
Mill Valley, California
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning.
T.S. Eliot FOUR QUARTETS