Look back at the last year and consider: how did generosity open your heart? How can you cultivate generosity in the coming year?
My mother was generous. She laughed a lot, gave what she could and when we needed help, help was given to our family. I made it to the age of 13 knowing that people were warm and kind. That when you suffered, that was the best time to help others.
We were one of those families that have their names, ages and a small wish list put upon some random office or school Christmas tree. People fulfilled those wishes for us. It was nice. I remember sitting on the twin size bed that shared a room with my brother’s at my dad’s apartment, playing with the slime lab that I was given. We got some clothes, some toys. People always gave us food.
After my mom died, I learned that not everyone was generous. I remember being 15 and asking my dad for lunch money, $20. Enough for $1 a day, which was the bare minimum to have a lunch, a cup of noodle soup. He gave me $5. My friends fed me and then I got a job when I was 16. This is not new information. I’ve mentioned this many times. But I learned from him that sometimes when you ask for what you need, the bare minimum, you don’t even get that. I learned the feeling of shame and guilt in asking for anything.
My goal is that whoever comes to me for help, I don’t want anyone to feel ashamed. So, I give. Love, joy, time, concern, sometimes I can even afford gifts. I want Josh to always feel cozy and loved at home. Home should be a safe space. I give big hugs, because people forget how wonderful they can be. I’ve had someone cry in my arms because of how loving my hug was. FOR REALZ. She just burst into tears. She was, incidentally, a big crier. But still. My hug made someone cry in joy. I want to be that safe space for people.
I’ve been lucky in that my life is full of generous people. I always feel like I take more than I give. It is a perpetual guilt that I feel. My car, my home, even my bed are mine because of my friends’ generosity. There are beautiful things in my life because people have given them to me. I’ve gone to wonderful places and had great times because of my friends’ generosity. I feel grateful to them but also awkward, because I’ll never be able to give them the things they give me. How can I ever match the joy and love they provide me with?
I try to make the world better in little ways that mean so much to other people. I don’t like talking about it because it’s not about getting a pat on the back. It’s about making a conscious choice to make a difference. When I’m having a hard time in life, I try to give, because making someone else happy makes my day better too.
With all that said, I’m still a dick. I’m still judgmental and abrupt. Making people uncomfortable with my honesty will always be an unfortunate side effect of being me. Awkwardness is embraced and accepted. I just know that I can do small things to make others happy, so I do those things. Cultivating my generosity is something that I try to do daily. Sometimes I fail, but most days, I can get one or two things done to make someone’s day brighter.
So, thank you. Thank you for helping me through my life.