I went for a run today.
And by run I mean downhill, with some lovely uphill strolls.
I remember this cool phenomena from biking days. Gravity plus momentum equal a little gift.
As I begin to descend I notice my stride getting longer and my speed increasing. The breeze moves the hair out of my face. Thoughts like, “I am a runner” go through my head.
And when I hit the bottom of the hill and gravity stops pulling me faster, momentum sends me halfway up the next hill. Or a third, or, OK, a quarter of the way. But I got a little farther! With help!
I got another little boost from a National Guard member who drove past sharing music: “You can feel it all over.” Thank you, sir!
It got me thinking about generosity. How instead of a brick wall at the bottom of the hill, the laws of physics say that leftover speed means I get help on the uphill.
And sound: it’s shared. If the windows are down and the volume is up, anyone gets to listen. It’s not limited to the person who turned the music on.
These aren’t moral choices. It isn’t a decision on the part of science to share instead of absorb or reclaim or keep. It is the nature of these laws to give.
I have another example. I have a bag of impatiens I grow on my front post every year. This year I actually watered and fed it regularly and it has thrived.
In fact, it spilled over. I’m not sure how exactly, but there are now little impatiens growing on the ground beneath the bag. The bag could not contain them all, so sharing happened. How generous!
Sherman Jones is a friend of mine. Maybe you know him, too? There was a meme going around a while ago that said “Are you really from Mansfield if you don’t know Sherman?” He’s a little famous.
Anyway, Sherman knows a lot of people. And he is aware of needs. And he does his best to connect needs with resources. On top of that, many times when I see him, he comes bearing gifts. Ice cream from The Chill. Extra produce from the monthly giveaway at Mansfield Senior High. Toys to share with the kids at our community meal.
Sherman has plenty of hurdles to face himself. He has many challenges, and he doesn’t have a lot of resources. But he has that spirit of giving that allows him to bypass himself and share with others.
And generosity among humans isn’t the same as gravity and sound and flowers. I know the comparison breaks down. Recently, I lent someone money. It was casual, with plenty of reassurances of repayment.
But the repayment hasn’t happened. And I began thinking I need to keep all of my resources close to me, because people so often seem to handle sharing poorly. They aren’t like uphills or soundless spaces or dirt ready to produce something beautiful.
I actually stopped writing this story for a while, because I was so disheartened by the whole thing.
Then I visited a friend who was closing up a business venture. She had items she wanted to move out, and I ended up with merchandise several times the value of the money that was not returned to me, intended to be passed forward to people in need, affecting over 100 people!
In that act, she effectively embodied everything I had been processing earlier. She had extra. She couldn’t keep it. She isn’t deciding who ultimately receives it. She has given gifts.
I like the idea of being at capacity and spilling over without trying to control the spillage. I like the lack of stress that comes from not keeping and not managing and not deciding and not building bigger storehouses. I like the unpredictable possibilities - the beauty - that show up when the excess is shared.
And giving plain old feels good.
Just like that little bit of help uphill.