(Fictionalized musing; a wordplay on the thought of people 'loving' as vacuum cleaners)
How I'd love to feel how it is to receive. How I'd love to feel how it is to receive without giving back. How I'd love to feel how it is to be the recipient, never the donor. Is this logical?
Does love, does life, always have to be a two-way street? There are one-way streets. Does it always take two to tango? One can dance the chacha or boogie-woogie alone. Am I making sense?
Maybe I have a problem with receving. Thinking of givng as a precursor to receiving, I may have forgotten the joy of reception without reciprocation. I regarded receiving as a form of weakness, a passiveness without redeeming value.
'It's better to give than to receive': I've committed the aphorism to heart, interpreting it out of context, when it was originally meant to be an attack against materialism and selfishness.
I may have forgotten that selfishness can be a virtue when I can't give what I don't have. Me first, you later, when it's a matter of survival. Assured of survival, only then can I give. I give because I am full, not because I am empty, for then I am giving out of projection.
Give back? What's that? How can I give back when I haven't received? Someone must give me the impetus of first love. Some uncaused cause must first provide.
I've been vacuumed clean. Now I'm a black hole willing to take anything, absorbing any of the dregs left. I'm a hungry void desperate to be filled in. I'm a hungry nothingness sucking in any positive ions and dirt particles in the immediate vicinity.
I am wiling to take anything and anyone who comes first. After nothingness, I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I shall be a monstrous receiver and a violent giver with the hidden agenda of receiving more and more and more.
I want to receive with no strings attached, so I can learn how to give without expecting anything in return.
An online exchange led to this, which is really an expansion on Nouwen's concept of "violent giving and receiving":
Giving is fraught with suspicions:
- am I giving because I expect something back? (manipulative giving; transactional, scratch-my-back-and-I-scratch yours, quid pro quo relation; may be construed as a desperate cry for love)
- am I giving with the expressed expectation that I'll receive something in return for my investment? (prostitution, corruption)
- am I giving to demonstrate my superiority/superior position? am I giving out of a sense of social prestige? (haughtiness)
- am I in fact out to humiliate? (vengefulness; humiliation)
- am I giving because I am obligated? (guilt (false or true) and oppression)
- am I giving because of my own neediness? (projection; messianism)
- am I giving to bait, trap, deceive, expose? (baiting)
Giving gifts or favors for the purpose of courtship/wooing, however, has a little distinction in that there's considerable freedom allowed on the part of the receiver. The giver takes chances; his or her action may or may not be requited, with no strong negative impact on the person withdrawing to 'give back.' The act of reception does not automatically mean winning the receiver's heart.
But receiving also takes risks:
- the risk of being humbled (humility, if humility can be called a risk)
- the risk of realizing I am in need of help (self-pity and pride)
- the humiliation of being pitied (self-pity and pride)
- the risk of being forever indebted and thus beholden to someone (fear of slavish gratitude)
There's also the case of when I know nothing but to receive and receive and never give, not even out of gratitude, as though the ever-expanding, ever-creative cosmos has a sacred duty to provide just for me. (pure selfishness, egotism)
What about the act of receiving done by beggars? It may be construed as receiving via active pleading.
In places where there are faux beggars, receiving becomes even more complex as it turns into an entire industry of mendicancy, a little big business. It has features of Big Brother, Mafia, local-syndicate crime victimizing the desperate poor, who are willing to act poor and handicapped as to undergo a fake shabby makeover and forced mutilation.
Lastly, meting out justice is a form of giving, right (justice)? Being on the receiving end, therefore, can only mean punishment (punishment/penalty).
We've focused too much on negative giving and receiving, but there are also the positives to consider:
- giving praise for something laudable (affirmation) and receiving the praise in gratitude (self-affirmation)
- giving something out of generosity (charity)
- giving merely out of surplus, when one has the choice of hoarding for future use (generosity)
- giving back out of gratitude (gratuity?)
- giving even out of one's neediness because it's the right thing to do, as in the case of donations during catastrophes and when the helpless asks for help (heroic generosity)
- giving out of guilt, to atone for one's sins (penance) and receiving unsolicited favor from the repentant/penitent (bonanza/windfall)
- giving and receiving for financial growth purposes (banking and finance transactions)
- unemotional/impersonal giving and receiving through a medium of exchange for mutual growth and benefit (business venture/transaction, barter, fair trade)
- being given out something one did not solicit for something one did (receiving a reward/award)
- receiving after joining a contest for fun or to prove something (winning a prize)
- receiving without any intention to give back due to helplessness or lack of mental awareness (act of receiving by the handicapped)
- giving something spiritually worthwhile through one's suffering (martyrdom, or the act of giving by the elderly and all other sacrificial sufferers or sufferers by choice)
- receiving while still unable to give back but actually unknowingly giving back tremendous joy due to total lovability (the act of giving and receiving by a child)
- receiving from God through prayer request/intercession (divine favor)
- giving to God what He doesn't need (worship), with God receiving from creation what he doesn't need (divine pleasure)
Needless to say, the kind of giving and receiving we all strive to see is one in which it is done out of trust and true generosity. As Nouwen puts it, it means "[giving] according to the other’s capacity to receive, and [receiving] according to the other’s capacity to give."
Geez, this post should be expanded in a long essay, or a book.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Posted by R.O. at 9:15 AM