I am experimenting with giving time. It's a new concept to me, but one that I think resounds rather well with this new unemployed, post-recession era. Many people are without jobs, in-between jobs, losing jobs, desperately clinging onto jobs.
What do we do when it all falls away? When we have nothing to do all day?
I was discussing the issue with a friend in England who is going through this very process right now - the painful days of job hunting. It feels like limbo land to her. It feels like the bardo. It may feel like a nightmare. But what if we were to start giving away our time?
In the past six months, I have been very lucky. I have had the chance to experiment with this. I have had the luxury of a husband working to pay the rent and feed me (and enough freelance jobs to bring in some cash).
In the absence of full-time employment, I have been throwing my energy out to the universe; helping to establish some meditation classes in Maine; helping my in-laws in marketing their business; and just last week, a connection to a wonderful writing center in Portland called The Telling Room - where I will be helping young writers to find their voices. Okay, maybe I am doing some of it to feel busy and to keep my chops in action. But there is a deeper concept here...
I think the key to all this giving, is to watch our mind. Are we expecting something in return? Are we able to just give, for the joy of it? To simply help another person? When we give - without expecting anything in return - we lay beautiful imprints in our mind stream, which in the future (probably a future life) will ripen in wealth.
But forget the long term advantages - it feels wonderful to do something for the hell of it. I remember back in Hong Kong when I was freelancing and during lunchtimes I would close my laptop, head down Queen's Road East to Tai Wong Dong Gai and push through the glass door of the World Peace Cafe. I would throw on an apron and be a waitress for two hours. To outsiders, it probably looked like I was being paid to serve food. But it was all volunteer-led, and we were all gleefully happy as we went about doing it, serving others and practicing giving.
We've become so demanding. We expect things in return. If I give this to you, then I want something back. No, just let go of that. Just enjoy the happiness that comes from helping another. Here, take this. Enjoy this. The blissful art of doing it all for free.
(Photo credit: Leon Brocard courtesy of Wiki Commons - now that's another wonderful world of giving)