Well, we all know those others who fail to be generous, I'm afraid. For example, I had a boss I really liked (in spite of his strange sense of humor), who was a pleasure to work for... for the most part. But the man wouldn't part with as much as a dime for an office pool. He wouldn't buy a pin or button to support a worthwhile cause, even if it only meant spending a dollar or two. Poor man. He never got to know the joy of freely spending his money.
And I've had friends -- you know the ones -- who always had money to buy what they wanted (no matter how spendy the things were), but who were entirely tight-fisted when it came to gift-giving occasions or charities.
But happily (as I said), I'm mostly surrounded by generous souls who give freely of their TIME, their MONEY (or belongings), their KNOWLEDGE -- or all three.
TIME can be shared in a myriad of amazing ways. Someone can actually physically do something for someone else (participate in a volunteer activity, drive people places, bake cookies or fix a meal, care for an elderly or ill person, take care of a child, babysit a pet and on and on), or they can do something less physical -- yet still time-consuming (call on the phone, write a person a letter or card, pray for someone, and far many others). And in our brave new cyber world, there are entirely new ways to share time (email, messages, ecards, blog interactions and more)! My sister Marilyn mistressmarilyn has also mentored others, which I think is an incredibly generous thing to do. She has colleagues who are paid to teach and consult others, but during her entire career she's freely given of her experience to numerous people. (This may well fall under sharing knowledge, though -- right?)
Sharing MONEY can be both easier and harder -- depending on a person's financial situation. I've always said that if the average person gives a charity $100, that's much like a really wealthy person or business giving a million dollars. To me, it's all about how much money you have and are able to part with -- and even about managing to share $$$ even when you really don't have it to spare. I've known people with money who gave donations in place of their involvement, and while this is still generous, it's often easy to throw money at things we don't really want to spend our TIME on -- isn't it?
(Yeah, I've lumped giving belongings in with sharing money, even if that's not quite the same thing. I have to tell you, it always means a lot to me when someone hands me something that belongs to them as a gift, though -- no matter how small that thing might be.)
I've spoken before about how I feel about sharing KNOWLEDGE, so no one who knows me will be surprised to hear how highly I value that form of generosity. Many people appear to share what they know, but only a portion of these do it well -- and with a generous heart. I've always tried to show extra gratitude to those who've taught me things, because that's a gift that can't be used up or tarnished over time.
Today I wanted to take time to write about one of the most generous people I know. And, yes, Marilyn is certainly one of these people -- but, no, it's not her this time. (smile)
This is a man I've been lucky enough to know since my high school days. He grew up on the poor side of town -- just like I did. He wasn't simply handed things, but always had to earn them. In other words, he wasn't blessed with money -- yet he was always generous with what he had, even as a teen.
What makes his generosity stand out for me?
He gives so warmly and freely! He doesn't dwell on his financial position, but only refers to it in order to let someone know he's able to share. (Believe me, I've known people who had lots of money and loved to show it off -- so I know the difference.) He goes out of his way to make you feel deserving of the gifts he gives to you -- and not to make you feel uncomfortable about receiving them from him.
Yes, it helps that this guy has a terrific sense of humor, is intelligent and fun-loving and a blast to email, talk to on the phone and be with. I won't deny that he's special in other ways, because he certainly is! (Plus he's a tall, muscular, hunk of a man -- and sexy as hell. But that's another story... heh...)
He not only gives (constantly) to his family and friends -- but he also gives to people he's never even met.
If you haven't reasoned it out yet, I'm talking about Tom -- the guy I frequently mention here. And, yes, he's the guy who has been bringing me Cheetos for forever-and-a-day -- and now brings me big boxes of chips to share with everyone at the office.
Sure, I was impressed when he gave Marilyn an iTouch for her recent birthday -- how could I help but be? It's an expensive present and really, really cool, too. (grin) But I'm just as impressed that he wants ME to always have $$$ on my Starbucks card -- and to be able to buy Starbucks for my friends when we go to coffee together. That might sound petty to some, but it means the world to me. I can't tell you how many times I've taken a few minutes away to share coffee with a buddy an/or co-worker -- that included de-stressing and gossiping and getting our heads straight. (For the unenlightened, Starbucks is about one hell of a lot more than just getting coffee!)
Tom was a cool teenager -- but he's a much cooler adult. I'm so impressed with him as a man. He's mature, but still fun -- responsible, yet funny. Heck, I don't know many men who impress me as much as he does.
And his generous nature is a big part of what I love about him.
By the way, Tom gives gifts for the hell of it -- something both Marilyn and I think is perfect. It's good to get things for your bday or a holiday, but nothing beats getting a gift when there's no 'reason' for it -- except that someone wants you to know they CARE.
By the way, Tom isn't just generous with money and gifts. I got a much-needed ride from him recently (so cool to be in a car with him again) And like I said, his emails are such a blast to read. Hey, didn't I tell you??? He's funny and smart -- and his emails reflect it.
Gosh, I really hope all of YOU have been blessed enough to know someone like Tom...
Hopefully I've managed to let HIM know how grateful I am for all he does. But that's another thing about Tom -- I don't think it matters much to him if he gets kudos. I think he'd continue to be generous even if he was never thanked at all. And, frankly, I'd like to be more like that myself...