A blog post about giving and receiving gifts
July 2014, a small parcel arrived in the post. I opened it and inside was a book and a lovely hand written letter from my friend Callum Saunders. Callum has kindly agreed to let me share with you the words he wrote.
My dear Doug
On June 17th, you tweeted a photo of a card: ‘Buy a book. Read a book. Pass the book on.’ with the accompanying message, ‘Don’t let your learning end up on the shelf’. This struck a chord. I love reading and learning new things, yet this knowledge invariably ends up on my shelf.
I enclose a book I enjoyed that looks at the role of office work vs making things with your hands – it’s a truly eye-opening look at how we work in today’s day and age.
If you don’t fancy reading it, feel free to pass it on, loan it, give it away. But thank you for encouraging people and making me think about how I store knowledge.
With very best wishes – Callum
If you don’t already know him, I hope that by now you can get a sense of what a kind, thoughtful guy Callum is.
The book he sent me is called The Case for Working With Your Hands and a while ago it came to the top of my reading pile. Having read and enjoyed the book I’ve now passed it on to Richard Martin.
I’m currently enjoying a book written by Amanda Palmer titled The Art of Asking. Laurie Ruettimann recommended it in a recent blog post, and if you, like me, sometimes struggle to ask for what you need, I’d encourage you to get hold of a copy*. In the book, Amanda Palmer writes about gifts as being things to exchange, things to pass on, sometimes literally, as in the above book related example, and sometimes things to pay forward.
There is a phrase in The Art of Asking which is currently resonating with me: ‘The gift must always move’. I love this idea. I frequently wrestle with the question ‘How much is enough?’ and realise that some of the hardest choices we make are around what to keep and what to pass on, and move on from. Yesterday I was invited to respond to this question: ‘What is profitable?’ I wrote the following answer to myself: ‘Giving stuff away’. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten that I have financial needs to meet and fun things I want to do which require the earning of, and exchange of cold, hard cash, and in addition I genuinely believe there is greater overall wealth created in passing stuff on, and in the exchange of gifts between us.
*If you would like my copy of The Art of Asking when I’m finished with it – get in touch. Ask and I will send it to you.