The physics of giving

In my last blog article, The power in putting it out there, you were witness to the gift of furniture flashflooding into our lives. It’s the only way I can think to describe the process. One day you wake up, hours later you are bestowed a gift (multiple gifts!) beyond your most vivid imagination.

That has happened to us often of late. In the book The World Is Freaky Beautiful, we experienced a series of gifts so startling that our lives are forever changed for it.

It makes me think this gifting happens all the time. We lose track of the flow of gifts into our lives in the same way we lose track of moments of laughter — there are that many.

There’s a juicy Newtonian nature to gift giving. In physics, something that is in motion will stay in motion until it is acted upon by another force. It is the same with the flow of gifts! Hand me down gifts go on and on. One gift inspires another.

Go back to our furniture gift. Paul gave us multiple pieces of furniture that fit our new lives so perfectly it was if they’d been ordered from a catalog. Upon receiving that furniture, we now had furniture we in turn wished to give someone.

It turns out those couches were perfect for Kris, who works with us. But it doesn’t stop there. Kris, who was in possession of our old HemingStone couches (from when we were downsizing a couple of years back!), brought those couches outside to dispose of — and neighbors fell in love with them. The last he saw of them they were being carted away to a new home, their fourth in twelve years by my count.

You can only surmise the neighbors gave away some things too. You see how this flow goes on. The only force that can stop the motion is self-absorption — to receive a gift and not continue the flow by imparting another, no matter how small. 

Self-absorption is the black hole of life. What goes in doesn’t come back out. Nothing comes back out.

Now here’s the beautiful thing! The giver who starts a giving chain has opened up space to receive. My brother, who is one of the greatest givers I know, also receives in great magnitude.

Think of it this way, a gift is a giving wind. When you bestow a gift it is as if you’ve set up a small fan blowing the giving wind in the direction of the person you gifted. One who ceaselessly gives has dozens, hundreds of fans pointing out to others. This only serves to draw more of the giving wind through that giver’s life. With the drawing power of all these wind currents combined, you can imagine the volume flowing through his or her life now.

And then, in turn, each of these others receives that giving wind and passes it on in some fashion, through another gift, a kindness, a service to another. Our life is this, an amplification — or not — of the giving current.

The power in putting it out there
The giver's high