"Perhaps consider what life would be like if we truly lived by what we believe." - Lost & Found on The Hierophant
When I first got to the Marigny neighborhood of New Orleans, and saw that there were no full-on grocery stores, that's when I first got a clue that the trip was going to be a tad more expensive than I'd anticipated.
That old flashback anxiety came up the first day or two when I went out to eat, paid the bill and then flash forwarded into the future calculating in my head the total spreadsheet amount for food expenditures for the two months (plus in actuality).
It didn't take me very long to get into the New Orleans' laidback vibe, however, and feel that somehow everything was going to be alright.
What I ended up recalling (my life flowed with grace and miracles in Thailand and Sri Lanka the winter of 2005 too) was when I take the initial, if faltering, step, the Universe takes at least 99 on my behalf.
Small example. I rarely needed to take cab rides while in New Orleans. I would simply decide where I wanted to go - be it in Tulane or Magazine Street or the Mapleleaf Bar - and voila! someone would inevitably offer me a ride - typically without me asking.
The first time, I'd only been in town for two days so I took a cab to the Jung society meeting on the Enuma Elish myth in uptown. There I met Dan and Diane - literally right next door neighbors to where I was staying - voila! a ride home materialized.
I had no idea when I got there how I'd get home (it was a church tucked off the beaten path; a cab would definitely need to be called out.) Yet I did know I needed to be at that particular meeting. That was the step. When you listen and hear, "Go." You don't balk, "But that's all the way in uptown. It'll cost $25 roundtrip. And...."
Don't give up even before you start. You move in the direction you're being pulled despite appearances that you ought to wait until all the ducks are in the row, and you've lined a ride home, and the stock market is, and the...
"The only thing that will move you (and I don't mean to be too poetic about this) is the same thing that moves a leaf hanging from a tree. It's simply because the breeze blows that way. So you always know what to do: The breeze blows that way, and that's the way you go. You don't ask questions anymore. You don't evaluate why the breeze is blowing that way because you know that you don't know why. And you know you can't know why. There's never been a leaf anywhere that knows why the wind blows that way on that day at that moment. That breeze changes the orientation of your life, moment to moment to moment, simply because that's the way life's moving. And when you're living in your awakened self you have no argument with the way it's moving because it is the same as you are." - Adyashanti
Actually, that's the way I met my friend Wyatt. I didn't know how I was going to get home that day I met him busking on University Avenue either. That was our opening exhange. He asked for money. I walked over, lowered my voice and explained that I'd give him something but I didn't have enough for bus fare home myself. (Tended to go through these feast and famine cycles in the past.) I only know that something was compelling me to go to Palo Alto that day. I followed that whim. Of course, I ended up getting a ride home from my friend that works at IDEO... yet I didn't know that apriori.
I found that New Orleanians were generous, sharing and less of a "me, mine, and my" frame of mind than I'm used to observing in the US.
It's there it all dawned on me that money would end up becoming extraneous.
Call me quixotic, idealistic, dreamer. (I cannot explain the how's) I've seen into the future. (Though yes, the future keeps shifting because we change it.) Surprising myself, I feel moved toward "collective" (for lack of better name) and cooperative ways of sharing which don't necessarily involve money, or monetary systems.
I want to play in that realm. Live by that belief that we can take care of each other.
To me, art isn't to be merely visited, watched...it's more like a space you inhabit, you absorb, you be. Doubt I've said this, but I'm into social art. Not social as in we're going to exchange comments, trackbacks, and I'll add you to my buddy list.
Social as in art that creates civilizations...like this...
You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world
- John Lennon, Imagine
I witnessed so many acts of collectiveness in Nola, ah, where to begin. Okay, here's one I witnessed: One evening I run into a cool pianist I've met at Mimi's upstairs. He is giving away a newly inherited piano to a fellow pianist sitting there at the counter. They'd met the week earlier at Mimi's. It's an extra piano, and she doesn't own one.
That logic doesn't resonate with everyone. Why not put the piano on Craigslist? Why not eBay? Why not donate it to the ___. Because he met whom it was intended for.
Last week Donna wrote in comments: "For some real fun, try giving money away, and watch how fast it comes back to you. ;^)" Yes. (The Diamond Cutter is a marvelous true story of this in practice. If it matters, he ended up a multimillionaire in the process.) Obviously one doesn't give with any expectation of getting. I don't give for quid pro quo or karmic brownie points.
Anyhow, once I got the lesson of giving, I found another lesson was waiting.
& it has to do with truly living by what I believe. As runners are wont to say, though, your mileage may vary.
And there are those who have little and give it all.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.
And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.
And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue;
They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.
Though the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.
It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding;
And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving
And is there aught you would withhold?
All you have shall some day be given;
Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors'.
You often say, 'I would give, but only to the deserving.'
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.
And what desert greater shall there be than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving?
And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?
See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.
For in truth it is life that gives unto life - while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.
And you receivers - and you are all receivers - assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.
Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings;
For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the free-hearted earth for mother, and God for father.
- Kahlil Gibran
"Imagine walking down the street and a woman comes up to you and says, 'Hello. I have an offering for you.' Puzzled, you look up and in your palm falls a $7500 check. 'Why me?' 'Serendipity,' she says. 'What should I do with it?' 'Whatever you want.' 'How did you decide on $7500?' 'We sat in a circle of silence, wrote down a number on a piece of paper and it averaged out to $7500.' And then she walks away. Now that's a pretty ridiculous story, but that's what has brought us together here." - "A Radical Experiment in Generosity Launches," CharityFocus.com
images Visit (detail of entire painting above) by Mari Klarwein; Breath of Gaia, by Josephine Wall (btw, discovered via a cool art blog by Melissa Ulto you may enjoy, Multo.com::Visual Magic); Tree of Fruitfulness, by Lieve Prins; can't find origin (from Myspace page while surfing) but probably one of those fantasy games