As the terrible Texas heat overtakes our stomping grounds and relentlessly forces us into our cool hideaways to avoid an unrequited scorching; we begin to think of ourselves.
We think of our glittering and helplessly ending summer, whose last unimaginable days approach us even before school lets out. Another year has escaped our careless hands and deposited itself in memories and scars; physical manifestations of of our soon forgotten high school year; only thinking of our futures.
While most desire and happily partake, Cami Walker, the New York Times best-selling author of “29 Gifts: How A Month Of Giving Can Change Your Life”, and her “giving movement” on 29gifts.org stresses the importance of giving during occasions when self-centeredness seems the most enticing.
The movement is simple and self-explanatory— give one gift a day for 29 days, arguing (and proving) that when you “open yourself up to giving”, the world wants to give back to you. This concept of reciprocity is widely recognized, seen in Hollywood’s “Pay It Forward” and Stephen Post’s “Why Good Things Happen To Good People”.
Cami, a fun and vibrant woman, was given “the shock of her life” when diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2006 after her recovery from drug abuse, just days after her wedding. After struggling with with MS for 2 years, her friend and spiritual counselor Mbali Creazzo gave her the 29 gifts prescription, reluctantly trying it.
“You’re not going to get a different result if you don’t try to do something differently. Even if it just makes you feel sad or [if it’s] bringing you down on one level, if you committed to do something nice, it’s like metaphysically impossible for something to not happen. The karmic points are going to start adding up and are going to change your outlook and if that’s what you want…. Try it! Other people come in and think that it’s not even a challenge, sometimes it’s just those that think it sounds fun! They already know the benefits and they see their participation of in it as participating with the global community, it helps them stay positive,” Walker said.
While many remain skeptical, the community aspect is what attracts the attention of many. With members from across the globe reading fellow givers’ blog posts, every day presents an opportunity to provide kindness and reaffirmation to others.
Waking up to comments on posts from people everywhere from Australia to Indiana provides many a sense of happiness unbeknownst to many; the happiness felt from knowing that even strangers carry a willingness to spread joy and provide solace to those who need it, and support and excitement at happy occasions.
“One of the hardest things for me to do when I’m lonely and vulnerable is to be honest; I don’t want people to see that. I don’t want to show them that, but when I do, that’s when people identify and understand. Going there—going to that level of deep emotional authenticity, [it’s] not something that people want to spend time doing in cultivating relationships with people that are faraway and putting in those efforts. It’s easy if you see each other at school every day, when you’re put in circumstances when you’re not around people (like when I was sick). I remember I started to step back from the world, that’s when I made the chance, and that’s when I really needed to reconnect with the world. I can’t do this by myself; I need other people in my life. That doesn’t make me weak, it makes me human,” Walker said.
Although Cami admits to struggles on an everyday basis with her MS and her post-divorce life, that doesn’t prevent her from giving.
“I’ve continued giving [since 2008], but I still have to start over what seems like every darn month!” she said.