A couple of months ago I decided I was going to give away something everyday for 30 days. Well, I actually thought about doing this in December but then got into an argument with myself about the fact that I already give away many things from gifts to money in December as it’s the season for it for me and realized that I had to do this at another time for myself. Especially since I had some very specific things I wanted to give away to some people. It turns out it’s not as easy as you might think to give away something every day for 30 days in a row. In particular if you want it to have any kind of meaning beyond emptying your house. Which to a degree is a nice side benefit of giving away things and certainly has me thinking twice before I buy anything anymore since I realized I did have many things I did not find to be useful or beautiful but knew other people would. I did have a fair amount of things to give away that I did donate to ARC. Things that I did not have a deeper connection to other than perhaps someone gave it to me and I felt obligated to keep it or I had forgotten that I had it.
There were some unexpected challenges in doing this for me. Not all of them would be the same for all people some are definitely specific to me such as: As a full time writer/at home jewelry maker, I don’t see people everyday. So there were a few times that I walked around the house and made a stack of packages to give away. Some of the packages took a fair amount of time to put together. There was one that I made for my lifelong best friend that was compromised from many small trinkets and objects from my office. I wrote the origin of every single thing I sent to her into a letter so as to explain why it was seemingly random in the box but actually was not at all random. I put together a few gifts for people with things that meant a lot to me and had special memories. Most of the time the letter I wrote to go along with it didn’t rightly explain why it was important but I did try. One thing that was funny to be honest with myself about was that even though these things had a lot of meaning to me, most of the people I gave things to did not care in the least. Fair enough, what can you do?
Some days I didn’t have an idea of what to give away. I had sent boxes and bags of clothes to donation, gifts to friends and was at a loss. Then I had the idea to look through Facebook to see if there was someone who could use something. This yielded a a few things: The first one was coming across a post by Amanda Palmer in which she was asking people to send things to her sick friend. I really didn’t know what to write in the card simply because I have the hardest time talking about my book but I did send him my book. I actually sent my book to a few other people as well. I also learned about the terrible problem of dogs getting caught in hunter’s traps so I sent money to care for some of the dogs and will likely do so again. That one broke my heart. I made a care package for a friend who unexpectedly had to travel for work. I gave brand new dresses and tops to friends that I had kept with the intention of them “someday” fitting me. Which is just ridiculous because in most of those cases, I’d have to be a completely different person to wear them.
One of the big uncomfortable truths was getting real with myself about projects I had stacking up forever in my closet. Things that I always thought I really wanted to do and held onto the materials because I really liked the idea of doing these projects. Well the reality of life is that you are not going to do every project you want to do. I have a very hard time with this since it may take me a while to do something but I’ve come to the realization that I am actually someone who finishes projects. What I’ve reconciled with myself is that I have to prioritize what projects matter the most to me. I don’t want to work constantly on things and miss out on having a life or relationships so I picked the ones I knew I would do and let the others go. I passed on materials and ideas to the people I thought would likely do these things or something even better in most cases. It wasn’t easy but at the same time facing the facts was rather freeing. I also have found that I have actually been taking the time to get the things I prioritized done. Step by step as opposed to ignoring everything because there were so many it was overwhelming me without realizing it.
Now here is the most unexpected feeling I experienced that quite surprised me. The biggest gift I wanted to give someone got rejected. Several times. And it made me super frustrated. I mean really super frustrated. Like what the hell is your problem I want to give this to you, frustrated. So it turns out that perhaps giving away things isn’t always about the other person. Sometimes it’s about you and how it makes you feel. I suppose that sounds really selfish but it’s the truth. I am the one who has to live with myself and I’d rather feel like I’m at least trying to be generous than not. Of course, part of what you can encounter is the suspicion that comes with doing something for someone when it’s not a socially accepted holiday. They think you expect something in return or even more strangely, think you are judging them for something if you give them something you know they’ve wanted but have never done for themselves. That one definitely floored me.
A few things I gave away I do miss. That is good though because that means I picked out things to give away that meant something to me. I suppose I’ll add that I gave away a few hundred items. Not just 30.
There is one thing I’ve considered giving away and I have very mixed feelings about it. I have been considering donating blood. I haven’t done it yet as the ethics of it seem so gray to me. What I mean by that is the blood donation industry is run on anything but donations and is very often not altruistic in nature. I find this shameful in many ways. I don’t know, like I said mixed feelings. I know people need it but, it’s so expensive that it adds enormous debt to the hospital bills of patients which seems really wrong to me. It is something I continue to weigh.
I’m not sure that I have more thoughts on this at the moment. I may in the future and what’s more I find it likely I will do this again. I mean truly, how many things does a person need? Sharing them seems like a really good idea to me. Especially since people share so many wonderful things with me.
* I did not photograph everything I gave away but here are some snaps to perhaps give you ideas. Have a great day!