One of the most common ways to show someone love - anywhere in the world - is to make a meal from them. For some, it is a sense of pride in their abilities to put ingredients together, for others, it is all they have to give - even if it means they must go without for the rest of the day. Regardless of where we fall on this spectrum, I think most of us will agree that it feels pretty good to see a smile on someone's face when we give them something, especially if it cost us some effort or an investment money or time.
I would argue that part of our purpose as humans is to experience nearly the entire kaleidoscope of human emotion. This cannot be done without the bonding of our energies... without relationships. These relationships may be life long or they may be fleeting and anonymous interactions. When we mesh with others, how every briefly, we experience deeper facets of love, rage, grief, empathy, jealousy... I'm not sure that any feeling, however, quite matches that of giving or servitude. When we are able to give something of ourselves to another, with no expectation of return, something wonderful happens. It feels as if this extra layer of depth in our souls is suddenly excavated - there is more room.
That's how I envision it metaphorically anyway. Of course our souls aren't some physical storage space... who knows if they even exist. However, I believe that everything is made of energy, and I really do feel that giving creates some kind of extra space within us. Energy is not created or destroyed, and I do feel that any energy out must be replaced with energy in. When we give, I believe things do come back to us. They may be physical, they may not. They can come in the form of priceless lessons, pride, joy, fulfilled purpose. On a totally non-scientific, metaphysical level, I think when we serve in a way that brings us joy (meaning we are doing it willingly and not bitterly), we are fulfilling our purpose. I think that when we are living out our purpose, God, the Universe, whoever, has our backs and takes care of us. Maybe it's just that we can sleep better at night because we feel like we did something good and we gain a more optimistic outlook for a little day. Placebo effects are cool too.
Regardless of your beliefs, I do think that giving completes the circuit of abundance. When you refrain from serving, you put a kink in the proverbial hose of affluence. It'll make you feel pretty shitty after a while. The feeling of purpose will begin to fade away. Life will start to feel meaningless. But when you give, oh how the abundance flows...
The picture at the top of this article is one I took of some kids I befriended at an orphanage I was hanging out at in Colombia. I was traveling and stumbled upon the orphanage thanks to some AirBnB hosts I was staying with. I didn't have much with me to give but I did have some knowledge in dance and yoga that I shared with them and they had a blast. I also stopped at a little stand and bought some art supplies to bring them as well. They appreciated the gifts, but really they were happiest just showing me around their home, chit-chatting, and playing some games. All I had to do was have fun with them and they were smiling. Did they really need me to "help" them and make some big change in their lives? Fuck no, they would be just fine without me. But that's not the point of serving. You could serve a person wealthier than you just as well. Everyone has struggles. The idea of serving is actually to share your heart - something many of us lock up very tightly. With these kids, I was just opening my heart to them, and they opened theirs to me. Honestly, whatever little bit of happiness I may have provided for them, they delivered to me tenfold with their smiles - and that was truly such an abundant return. It really doesn't take much to serve, just an open heart.
If you're feeling the pep has been missing from your step lately, try giving back. Even if it's something really, really small. Try to make someone smile. I bet you'll wake up happier and re-energized tomorrow.