August 2014
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On Giving

Today I’m donating a kidney to my best friend, Jimmie Briggs. This process has given me a lot to think about and in response I’ve written this.

On Giving

It’s easier than receiving for most of us, let’s just get that out of the way first. To give is to be lauded. To give is to have power. To receive, or rather more accurately to be in need, is to be weak and often powerless. When we give we feel generous. Afterall, they don’t name buildings after those who have asked but rather after those who have, mostly after being asked, have given.

None of this makes giving any less important or necessary. It’s just to say that having to ask, as any of us who have been in that position can attest, is unpleasant. Who doesn’t want to feel needed? Who doesn’t want to feel as though the choice we make can save someone in however small a way?

This is a defense of receiving.

I have asked and I have received in my life. I have received without asking as well. And of course I have asked and not received. And for that I am a better person. To ask is to be weak. To ask is to be vulnerable. To ask is to acknowledge both to yourself and the person of whom you ask that you are in need.

To ask is to confront your own limitations. It is to accept your humanity because in fact we are only human in relation to one another. This means we, at some point, will be in need. No matter what the need is objectively, whatever that means, in that moment it is everything to the person who is asking.

To receive is to be delivered from the belief that we can live this life alone. It is a reaffirmation of who we are at our very core: interdependent.

It is a hard lesson to learn: that we exist not just for each other but because of one another. None of us would be here but for someone else. To understand this is one thing; to know this is quite another.

So we stand amongst each other. Giving and receiving in turn. Being grateful when we receive and feeling grateful to be able to give. We grow in the shade of one another and smile that we have had this time together.

And in the end we learn that all we have is the ability to give and take. Realizing in the end that they are, in fact, the very same thing.

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