Monday, May 16, 2011

A Circle of Presents

I couldn't update last week due to a bunch of technical difficulties and other assorted problems of varying degrees of reality. But here I am.

Over the weekend I received an email from Kate, the BookCrossing diva, who wanted to suggest that I check out a website called 29 Gifts. Well, hey, I love gifts. Who doesn't? And 29 of them? That's kind of exciting! So I surfed on over.

Oh, this is about giving 29 gifts, not getting them.

But that can be cool too, so I decided to take a closer look. 29 Gifts was founded by Cami Walker, a young woman living with multiple sclerosis. During a bad flare-up, she remembered something someone had told her earlier - it's an African tradition, to give something away for 29 days. She decided to try it, to make herself feel better, and once she did she was so transformed by the experience that she turned it into an online project to spread the ideal.

Here's how it works. You go to the website and sign up. You then proceed to give away one thing every day for 29 days - you start the cycle at your own choosing. The site gives you the option of creating a blog to post about your gifting experiences, and there's an online store where you can purchase, among other things, Cami's book 29 Things. (25% of the proceeds from the online store go to multiple sclerosis charities.) There's also a rather extensive community on the website, so you can share your experiences with other participants in the movement.

What do you give? That's up to you. Give old clothes to charity. Give a picture you drew to a friend. Give a hug. Give a phone call. It's really not important what you give or who you give it to - what matters is that you become mindful of the process. The idea is to make yourself aware of the importance of giving something to someone else. Be it to a relative, a friend or a complete stranger, you give something of yourself and that's what makes it transformative.

The Fraggles had a song about this, actually. "What you give is what you gain when you pass it on." Worth a try.

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