|The Boiler Room in Port Townsend Washington. While I never volunteered here, it is in drop-in centers such as this one that I've found some of the greatest joys of my life serving others in the community and being served at the same time.|
I wrote the quote above several years ago in a response to someone dear to me when we were discussing the whole prepper movement. I think she assumed that since I was always looking for land on which to create community, that naturally I must have been a prepper, getting ready for armageddon, the zombie apocalypse, nuclear doomsday, or some such calamity. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
"I am not a survivalist. I am an incarnationalist. I don't believe we are here to just survive but rather I think we are here to revive and transform creation through the creative process of living joyously and loving one another abundantly, while celebrating the diversity of the universe we live in. I don't believe in libertarianism for the sake of some self-focused individualism that places the survival and welfare of self over the empowerment and welfare of other but rather I believe in the Commonwealth, only through which can the common good of all creation ultimately come to fruition." -Brian Ernest Brown
In the event of an apocalypse of some sort I would hope that I would run to those in need of help the most, offering whatever assistance I could and sharing whatever it it is that I have. I would hope that I would have the courage to walk the walk I've been talking about for so long and not hide in a bunker in the woods, protecting for myself, propane, silver, food, medical supplies, and precious resources. I hope my belief in the social contract would encourage and empower my actions to be a helper and not a hoarder in such a circumstance. However, I'm not naive enough to think I might not falter out of fright or greed but I would hope not.
I've never been a survivalist. I really don't think I have the gene for it. I value my life but maybe I value yours more so. Many of my friends and family have heard me say, "no one can take advantage of me because I'll just give it to them." The same is true about stealing from me. Ask, and I'll most likely give it to you. You can't take from me, that which I'll give you. It seems to be the way I'm wired.
I have always been a giver; a giver in the extreme. It's almost always from a place of compersion for me. What is compersion you ask? Glad you did. Compersion cannot be found in the dictionary, but Wikipedia defines it as “an empathetic state of happiness and joy experienced when another individual experiences happiness and joy.” In many ways, I suppose, my giving nature is purely selfish; I derive great joy from people being happy and feeling joy. While receiving gifts is not one of my favorite things, giving them is.
Simply put, I enjoy doing things for others. Helping people in need but also even those in want more often than not. I take great delight in the delight of others.
While most of my giving has been altruistic enough, with the exception of that little compersion thing that I get out of it, not all of it has been so. I'm not quite sure what I feel about that but it's the truth and so I own it.
I have also used giving as a tool, a way of finding out what people really want from me. Many times in my life when I've felt there were alternative motives in a relationship, be it personal, professional, or spiritual, I have given the person everything they asked of me to get to the bottom of the basis of the relationship and to see what was left when they had what they ostensibly wanted. Many, times, though certainly not every time, that was the end of the relationship. They got exactly what they wanted all along and I was of no use to them any further.
When it was all said and done, I could say, because of my love of compersion, "well at least I enjoyed the ride to the bottom," though the bottom was often a rough landing. This kind of behavior has also offered me the occasion to start over many, many times in different arenas of my life. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, as it's a poor survival technique to say the least. However, that's what this blog post is about, my lack of survival instinct.
I have said all of that to say this, I value relationship between people so much more than I value the false permanency of things or even life for the sake of life. I value authentic honest relationship and helping others in need or even in want perhaps above most anything else in my life and I'm always willing to give my all in such endeavors.
I've had the big house, the precious collections, the expensive clothes, the fine jewelry, the foreign cars, the artsy galleries. I've had it all and I'd trade it all again for authentic honest relationships and or to help out those in need or in want and that's a good thing because that's exactly what I've done most all of my life.
Now please don't hear me say that I don't like the finer things in life, nor that I won't always pursue those kinds of things. I love to nest and I can be quite a collector at heart and in some ways, I'm just as materialistic as the next person. One only need to observe my lust for new technology to realize that I'm speaking the truth here. Hey, I own it! Even so, I've realized over the course of my life that wanting is often sweeter than having.
As a result, I currently try to live a minimalistic life but not one a deprivation where I'm doing without for the sake of doing without but instead one of decadent minimalism where the things that I do possess or the things I allow to possess me are of great delight and quality to me. And even then, I know in my heart that I will eventually part with them one way or another; so I'd rather part with things while I'm alive. There's and old quote that's been hanging around for years and I don't know where it originally came from but it goes something like this: "Do your giving while you’re living so you’re knowing where it’s going."
In the end, it's community, the commonwealth, relationship, whatever you want to call it that appeals to me most, not money or material things It's living this life together, for and with one another that is most meaningful to me. If you are currently in my life, whatever our connection, thank you for your present! If you were in my life but no longer, whatever our connection, thank you for the memories and the lessons.