Full Circles

Reflections on Living

Becoming a Gifter


   The truth is, I’m a lousy gift giver. Ask my wife.

   For the life of me,  my creativity becomes non-existent whenever I think of gifts to buy for her, or for family members (kids doesn’t count).  I once bought a jewelry box for my wife, when I later found out that she had hinted to me, that she wanted a particular inexpensive piece of earring. That wasn’t even the problem. The problem was that I actually thought buying the jewelry box  was a brilliant idea. “I nailed it,” I said to myself.

   I couldn’t have been further from the truth. Because truth resides in the other.

Insight isn’t a state of enlightenment or some form of intellectual prowess . Rather, Insight is a state of mutual agreement.  When we comment about a person, “He has good insight into his problem,” what we really mean is that we have come to a consensus, not some deep understanding of something.

   Anyway, as a Gifter, I had no insight.

   Back from my last teaching day in Chicago, this lack of insight hit me hard. It was my first time away from my family since our daughter was born. I knew what to buy for my 3 year old (Because she told me she wanted a minnie mouse and a big lolly pop), and I thought I should be a nice hubby and buy something for my wife. My wife said, “No need to buy anything for me.” Right.

   I was living with my mentor, collaborator, and dear friend, Scott Miller. The least I had was that I knew I lacked the “Gifting” insight, so I asked Scott for some help. He said, “Lets ask my wife.”

   We immediately cornered Karen when she came home from work. I asked her, “What should I buy for my wife?”

   A tell-tale sign she was a true Gifter: She asked me questions.

   What kinda stuff she likes? (No idea)

   What’s her taste like? (Erm)

   What she’s into? (Hmmm)

   “…Maybe you should pop by to this shop down the street called Persona, and you might find something locally made for your wife.”

   That’s it!! Locally handcrafted stuff, not likely to be found in our part of the world. And it’s in a specific shop! Sweet. So at the last day of running the workshops, Scott and I headed down to Persona. We bought her a locally made necklace.

   That day, I begin my baptism as a Gifter.

   And I want insight.  I want to have a level of outrospection to taste the wine of being a true Gifter like Karen.

   What this means is that I got to start practicing paying attention to those close to me. It’s so easy to take them for granted, simply because they are close.

   The practice of being a Gifter is an exercise in knowing how to love.

“To love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love, ” says zen buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh.

   It’s not even about the gift. It’s about being an attentive giver that makes one a Gifter.

   Harry Connick  Jr. once spoke about his faith: “Folks ask me if I’m a practicing Catholic. I tell them, ‘Yes, I am. Gonna keep practicing until I get it right.'”

   I’m going to keep practicing until I get it right.

Daryl Chow, PhD

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