I’ve heard that there are two kinds of people in the world…givers and takers. Of course, there are decidedly more than two kinds of people really, but for the sake of this post, I definitely fit into the “giver” category. Being a giver has its responsibilities. While I believe that altruism does exist at some level, I do not believe that there is true altruism in any situation… not even in the case of Mother Teresa.
Givers get some type of gratification, regardless of why they give, so it is important that giving not be about one’s ego but instead, be about the recipient of the gift.
Giving should be directed to the other person for the right reasons…out of love or concern or a genuine regard for that person’s well being… and not about what the giver will receive in exchange. The giver DOES receive something back each time that he or she gives, regardless, even if it is just self gratification. I believe this to be true even in the most selfless of cases. There is always something in it for the giver…but this is not necessarily a negative thing. Not at all. We all get our needs met in different ways. Giving is a positive approach to this problem.
Whether we give in order to receive recognition, love, respect or for some other reason, the quality of generosity and benevolence is a good quality to possess. EXPECTING something SPECIFIC in return for giving, is not a good thing….and I don’t do that. I give what I give and am appreciative of what I receive in return, in any form that it takes.
There is an enormous sense of satisfaction to be able to observe the look on someone’s face when given a gift. That sense of satisfaction is only one of the things that the giver receives. Giving reinforces appreciation and acknowledgement of both the giver and the receiver. The feelings expressed, of course, depend on the type of relationship that exists between giver and recipient.
“I give you this diamond, therefore, you have to marry me….” is not a good thing. “I put a roof over your head, therefore, you have to do what I say” is not a good thing. “I give you this money, therefore you have to be in a relationship with me.” is not a good thing. “I donate this money to your political campaign, therefore you must now be my puppet…” is not a good thing. “I give you this ______. Therefore, I accept your love, genuine concern, friendship and plans for the future…” is a GOOD thing.
The key is in finding the balance and in not expecting a specific outcome. Something good happens when one gives, but it might be different from what the giver expects. In fact, it might turn out to be much, much better than the giver ever thought possible! Just don’t EXPECT, and you won’t be disappointed!
Michael DeMeng, a favorite artist, does a project on an international level called “Art Abandonment” wherein artists from all over the world create art and then leave it for others to find and keep. This is a good kind of giving. I love and admire this project, but have done this very thing for about 30 years.
It is part of my vow to give something, to make a small sacrifice of time, energy, art, money, food, or something else, each and every day. I do it to take the focus off of myself and to place it on another person. THAT is what I get in return…a keener sense of awareness….enlightenment about others…a broader since of my place in the universe, appreciation, respect (including self respect). If I get something more in return, yay! If I do not, oh well. It’s all good…and it really IS good.
Fireflower Fugue by Stacy Alexander
The following article appeared in a Santa Cruz newspaper, about the Art Abandonment project:
You’re sitting at the bus stop, anxious to get to where you’re going, and you notice a Ziploc bag with a small note inside and something else you can’t quite identify, resting beside you. The note has an elaborately penned letter “A” and the title, “A Gift for You.”
You are intrigued, so you pick up the bag and squint to read the rest of the note: “Art Abandonment is a group of artists sharing what we love to do by leaving artwork in random locations across the globe for other to find and enjoy. Today the Universe picks you to receive this gift with the hope that you enjoy it or pass it onto someone else. If you wish, you can send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know it was found.”
You turn the bag over to inspect the contents. You think, “Is this for real or some new advertising scheme? Nothing is free, right? What do they want?” There’s a bracelet made of strung beads inside the bag. You open the bag and slip the jewelry around your wrist. It’s kind of cool. You start to relax and feel kind of lucky, like the universe is smiling on you.
The founders of The Art Abandonment Project—Michael deMeng and Andrea Matus deMeng—want you to feel this way. It’s their hope that, through giving away art, the world will become a slightly better place. They created a Facebook page for the group (www.facebook.com/groups/ArtAbandonment) and have just published a book, “The Art Abandonment Project: Create and Share Random Acts of Art,” promoting their concept.
In the book, Michael deMeng (a Canadian) explains, “Obviously, one could easily abandon art without becoming a member of the Facebook group. This [Facebook] page merely provides an opportunity for others to see the good deeds of the group members as well as share experiences and feelings about the topic.” So members use the page to post photos of their artwork at the drop sites, discuss creative topics, and suggest good locations for abandoning their art.
Michael also discusses the pros and cons of various drop locations:
- Retail stores: Good for exposure, but the juxtaposition with items for sale might be confusing to shoppers, or unappreciated by store owners.
- Planes, trains, boats and other public transit: Your art could travel far and end up on another continent, but unidentified packages aren’t popular among security personnel.
- Nature: Remote locations make your gift that much more unexpected when found, but weather is a factor and discovery may take longer.
- Adrift at sea: Romantic notion, but not worth the pollution potential (unless it’s biodegradable)
- Hotels: Good chance it will be found, but may end up in the lost and found cabinet since housekeepers don’t want to be accused of stealing.
- The Big City: Plenty of people in all walks of life, but avoid locations where it might just be perceived as trash.
So the Eyes Accost and Sunder by Stacy Alexander
Some abandoners prefer complete anonymity and leave their gifts without a note or even a signature on their art. But, those who leave a note of explanation with the opportunity to respond by email, can sometimes get encouraging validation for their efforts. One example: “Last night we decided to take the kids to the park just before dark, and there on a tree was hanging the most beautiful piece of art, with such an appropriate message, (live out loud) with a clock and beautiful flowers, it brought tears to my eyes, I feel so lucky to have found this beautiful work of art, how can it get better than that? Thank you!!!”
With 14,000+ members, the Facebook-linked group has spread all over the world. When I sent out a request to members for photos of abandoned art, the first response came from Friedel Kammler of Hungary. For April Fool’s Day, he made two “drops”—a collage he created from a painting, left on a life-preserver near a harbor; and a tiny, altered matchbox, with a gold-painted stone inside inscribed with the words “Love is forever,” left in the clasped hands of a naked Adam and Eve statue. Friedel also scatters the work of two Canadian friends he made through the Facebook page, who send him packages of their own handcrafted items to be abandoned in Hungary.
So….my advice to any of you out there who are feeling full of yourselves, who are anxious, depressed, lonely, sad, feel neglected…try doing something a little differently than before. Try giving. You WILL receive something in return…and while it might not be exactly what you expected, it could turn out to be even better. This is the case with me. I couldn’t be happier today. I couldn’t be happier. ❤