Writing as Giving

When we create for mass consumption, we sometimes lose the gift of giving. By this, what I mean is that we forget that what we are doing is giving; and in that forgetting, we lose a gift to ourselves. For it is better to give than to receive.

There is a mode of being that I drop into when I make a gift that is for one person and one person alone. This spirit of giving is an act of devotion to another. Every year, for Christmas, my wife and I make gifts for one another. When I am in the best mindset for this creation process, there is an abiding focus on her when I am making the gift. Sometimes I slip out of this mode in the rush of the holidays, and when I do, the magic of devotional giving falls apart into the stress of obligation. I’ve yet to master the ability to shift this latter state at will when I am in it, but I’m learning to recognize it and distinguish it from the very different feeling I have when I am giving from a place of devotion to and love for her.

It struck me this morning that when I write for public consumption, I seem to overlook this important lesson that I’ve learned from giving to my wife and to other individual people in my life. Why is this I wonder, and the answer that comes back is not very flattering even though I sense I am not alone in dealing with it.

When we write for public consumption, it is very easy to slip into the head and away from the heart. There is nothing wrong with thinking, of course, and that is not what I mean. Perhaps a better way to say this is that when writing for public consumption, it’s all too easy to write from a place of egoic expression. When we do, the goal shifts to receiving attention rather than giving devotion. Even now, my mind attempts to step in with “interesting” musings about this drive for attention and the fueling of our “attention economy.” But I digress…and in so doing, veer away from what the heart wants to say for you — and toward what my mind wants to say to you.

Is it possible to write in public in a way that feeds the heart’s desire to give, rather than the mind’s drive to receive? Yes, of course — there are many ways to do it. Each of us has the ability to give to one another through our writing, even when we do so through publishing in public rather than devoting what we write to one person at a time. The key, of course, is writing from the heart. The heart longs to connect; that is its primary purpose in this world: to bring us back together.

So when we write, the first step is to listen to our own heart, to open up a channel through which it may give to others via our writing or whatever other creative outlet we are blessed to enjoy. In so doing, we make a space for devotion to move us, and in so doing, we open up a place to give the gift of moving others with our gifts.

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