It’s all about the reciprocity, part two…
From an active perspective, it’s been a day of distractions. Not bad distractions, but not a lot of consistent and uninterrupted focus.
Take now for instance. A couple of dear friends just stopped by, beloved ones that I’ve known for lifetimes, but haven’t seen for many months. This morning I woke with the curious thought about having written consistently in this journal every day for the month of January since I began on the fifth. I’m writing each day at the end of the day, I mentioned before, a little bleary and dazed from the work and the focus, and yet somehow that raw state seems to be a good place from which to write.
What, I wondered, when something might arise spontaneously in that little window of time ordinarily devoted to these words? In the magic of intention and serendipity, synchronicity and grace, Preet and Raam have come, precisely in the hour of sunset and words.
After spending a little time together, I grew slightly distracted as as I mentioned, the workday has been a bit piecemeal. I pulled myself away for a few moments just to make sure there were no outstanding tasks dangling from the day. Just a couple of quick emails and everything was tidy. Everything was tidy that is, except, this writing.
These posts take me anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to bring through. In the same breath, this company, this friendship, this community energy is important to me. I left the desk and returned to the conversation to ask, “what about my journal? If I go to write, will you still be here?” Preet laughed, easily, a magnificent artist herself – she said “I never let anyone distract me from my work.” Of course, we agreed, there are those special occasions when dear friends come by spontaneously after long absence when we must make space.
Nonetheless, as we chatted, she said something easy which struck me lightly at first, but a moment later I found it was as though stepping into a puddle to find it had the depth of a lake. “Go write.” She said, “we will just be here, and if we want to interrupt you, we will.”
It struck me as easy, almost too simple. Of course people that love each other, share space and create naturally, independently, interrupting, and flowing in and out of the various dynamics of the communal aspect. This happens all the time, it’s called normal. It’s called friendship. It’s called family. It’s called community. It is in fact the easy oneness that arises on the shoulders of a natural and rich reciprocity.
I noticed this, just as I was dropping into the puddle past my eyeballs, watching the light of the surface recede as I sank rapidly into the increasingly familiar depths of realizing the presence of reciprocity.
There it was again, my old friend, my worn teddy bear, that childish thing that I never quite grew up. Right on target with the richness of the moment and the preciousness of current inquiry, my teddy bear come to life, a real live baby bear, growing powerful in my spirit, this new capacity to receive the fullness of life, and dance in the joyfulness of love.
In the absence of receptivity and reciprocity, not that these things are totally void, only the often invisible foundational anemias, I have learned to compensate with agency and action, the creative aspect of harmony. Of course I am quite good in community, in family, and friendship, I can often appear quite normal in collective contexts. But the secret is this, in those spaces, I am always doing something, actively watching, inquiring, teasing, telling… When I may appear receptive, it is only to my own sense, not very much to those around me, except perhaps just by listening.
So there it was again, me tripping over this precious quality of existence. Such a simple thing, to not even know how to simply write creatively and passionately and resolve this in harmony with simply being together with others. Absurd really, but then again – I think if we look closely we realize we all have these little absurdities in our way of being, of looking at life.
This is why Wisdom Counsel is so dear to me. These little things that can look like our absurdity, our frailty, our stupidity, our shadow, are really just those little loved parts of ourselves that we’ve never quite realized or figured out how to bring along. When we can get curious, rather than fearful, frustrated, or shameful, or guilty, about these rough edged grains of sand in ourselves, we begin to coat them with that loving curiosity expressed through mothers everywhere for their children. Do you see where this metaphor is going?
Those little rough edged, little love parts of ourselves, when coated again and again with that motherly curiosity and care become pearls in the treasure chest of our being.
In the previous post on reciprocity I promised some further examples to bring this inquiry current. That was of course until I finished by falling into the lake like depths of a puddle through a random mention of my daughter. Poetic to my eye, that this post should begin in the same spirit of discovery.
The topic in that previous post had to do with why my efforts to generate wealth in community had failed, for some reason mysterious and invisible to me. The answer was of course Reciprocity. Generosity I could see. Agency, and initiative as well. I could coach others and witness and critique their success and failure. I could witness my own stumbling as well and correct in the spirit of creativity and agency, humility even. What I could not see, or perhaps feel, was the precarious absence of my own receiving in the process.
In these cultural collectives, for as much as I brought, I left, on the floor, under the bed, in the dark, and out of sight, that little quality that might have sparked the fullness of the dance in the collective I was trying so carefully to nurture and grow.
I spent two years focusing on building a rich and generative community with brilliant, creative, intelligent, loving, careful and caring partners. Each of whom, I’m quite confident went away much wealthier for the engagement. I’m not speaking simply in terms of financial wealth, we built a great deal of wealth together, and I to came away wealthier for the dance. This realization which I am carefully nurturing here today is in fact one of the jewels of these engagements.
Later, after the dissolution of that community, I tried again, with a new community, but again, I overlooked the critical importance of building a robust reciprocity in forming the necessary coherence. Just as I thought things were ready to really start moving, the whole thing felt through my fingers like sand in the waves. The postmortem was easy for me there, I could see the precise instances of what I had missed, but it has taken me to this blog post to recognize the key ingredient overlooked was that of reciprocity.
One more time I tried, this time just with one other. A dear friend, someone I had worked with and created with for many years across a variety of contexts. Surely – this collaboration was destined to end in the majesty of a coherent fountain of wealth. Not so fast buddy…
We were investing together. A simple algorithm of risk analysis, position sizing, loss mitigation, and maximizing gain. We did all right for a while, more dumb luck than anything. Not realizing the absence of a true and intelligent reciprocity, I worked diligently in a parallel agency and activity, believing that there was a oneness present, but alas….
Again the in the postmortem, the capital assets burned through, a meteoric rise and equally devastating fall, I could see the points of missed opportunity, but did not recognize them until just recently, just these days now, as a failure of the reciprocitive circulation that gives life.
So here I am, an agent with words. Ironically, the comment section on my blog is completely inert and the feedback I get on these writings is sparse at best. I get good feedback, or at least feedback that the writing is good, but even intrinsically, even structurally, these writings on reciprocity are an example expression of the absence of that which I now need deeply to build, to grow, to be.
I’m laughing inside at that last paragraph. One day soon, I’ll organize this particular piece better. In the meantime, please pray for me as I skip through these puddles, laughing, wet, trying not to drown in my innocence, in my infancy, in a world gone mad, desperately yearning, though I think it does not know it yet, for reciprocity.
God gets to know things, we just get to ask questions…