Giving & Receiving

Posted by: on Dec 13, 2014 | 6 Comments
Giving & Receiving
image from (TV by Loop In The Mind)

I was visiting my friend Dana who lives and works in Aspen.  I went to pick her up at her office and saw a GIANT box which looked like some serious holiday haul.

“Oh, its uh, it’s a flat screen TV,” Dana said.  She looked down and began to busy herself with opening and closing desk drawers for no apparent reason.

“A what? You don’t even watch TV hardly ever. What would possess you to buy a huge TV?”

“Actually, I didn’t buy it. It was a gift.” She looked up at me with tears in her eyes.

“Well if you don’t want it,” I said, trying to help her keep it light, “Trade it in for a Prada bag. Or a yoga retreat to Bali. There’s lots of things you can do with it…don’t cry—hey we can put it on E-BAY..”

“Ok..I’ll tell you…”  She took a breath.  “One of my employees –a young man from Ghana was in a horrible car accident in August. They airlifted him to the hospital and days later I received a call. He had given them my name. They said they could only release him to a family member or friend as he was too messed up to be alone.”

My friend said she immediately jumped in her car, drove four hours to the hospital, signed him out and drove four hours back home, with him laid out in the back seat covered in casts and bandages. She then proceeded to nurse him back to health over several months—cooking, shopping, taking him for check ups, doing his laundry, changing his bed, keeping his spirits up all the while maintaining her own job and family obligations. Because we live far away from each other, our communications are phone or email most of the year and not once did she EVER mention that she had taken on this responsibility . Her conversation was as it always was: funny, bright, filled with the expected usual ups and downs in life– anecdotes about annoying clients and exciting football games (which she loves).

Dana went home to Pennsylvania that Thanksgiving as her family came from far and wide to spend the holiday with their ailing mother.  Since the young man was now able to get around on his own, he took an impromptu trip to see his aunt and uncle vacationing from Ghana in DC for a few days.

Learning her young friend’s relatives had now departed and he was in DC at loose ends, Dana invited him to join her family dinner in Pennsylvania. He accepted and spent his first American Thanksgiving in a loving environment—including lots of FOOTBALL!

The box was waiting for her when she returned home. She immediately called him into her office and thanked him profusely, but assured him that she could NOT ACCEPT such an expensive gift and that it had been her pleasure to help him – no gifts required.

She told me, with tears in her eyes, that when she said this to him, he didn’t know where to look.  He said, “I  cannot ever thank you for all you have done for me. I don’t know how to say it in words. I feel so lucky that you took care of me. But I still don’t feel completely myself. I want you to know how much it would mean to me if you would accept this gift. Your TV is too small. You should have something big. Like your heart.”

Dana accepted the gift. As she looked up and said, “Thank you,” his smile spread across his face and into his eyes. She felt an incredible softening inside. She had allowed herself to receive.

And in that moment she realized that in so receiving, she was also allowing HIM the gift of being able to GIVE.

THIS is yoga – even though there isn’t an asana or a mat in sight.  It’s the true yoking of mind and heart.  Giving becomes receiving; receiving becomes giving.

The happy give and take of life.


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  1. terrinakamura
    January 13, 2014

    When I first began reading this post, I felt as though I was experiencing some sort of deja vu. We also received a large flat-screen television during the holidays, and it, too, is still sitting in the box. But that’s where the similarity ends.

    Gailanne, what a wonderful story.

    I don’t know anything about yoga. I thought it was a type of exercise. I love how you managed to completely change my understanding of the practice, and why those who do yoga love it so much.

  2. Jan Scott
    January 13, 2014

    How can anyone read that with heart tugs and teary joy?

    Your amazing ability to express, connect, and bring heart to words is a gift I’m so grateful to read. The happy give and take of life, indeed.

    Gorgeous, Gailanne, simply gorgeous.

  3. Kahuna Dave
    January 13, 2014

    The Gift of the Magi with a modern twist. Using just a few words, Gailanne tells a larger story filled with humanity.

  4. nuala bean
    January 14, 2014

    Like all of your stories, this one pulled me in, held me and left me better for it. Just beautiful!

    Oh and I’ll take the TV if Dana’s still conflicted about it… 😉


  5. BrianaN
    January 20, 2014

    Absolutely beautiful. Many people struggle with the art of receiving, maybe in part because we are so focused on striving to be more giving. Plus, there is a certain guilt or shame aspect that blocks some from being able to receive. It’s certainly an important art we can cultivate. Thank you for another wonderful post!

  6. liv
    January 22, 2014

    I got tears in my eyes from this story. WHAT KINDNESS!