I've been stop-starting reading The Gift by Lewis Hyde for a long time now. It hasn't stopped me from talking about the book as if I've read it, cover to cover, many times.
It starts as impressive historical research of the concept of giving and receiving gifts. Hyde elaborates on indigenous traditions that view every animal, every bit of food, every natural resource as gifts from Creator. These are gifts that must be celebrated through ceremony before being used and consumed. When finished, what remains is mindfully given back to the land and Creator. Somewhere in this part of the book, I was introduced to the phrase (I'm paraphrasing), "A gift isn't a gift until it reaches its third recipient."
That brings up a lot of feelings for me! I think about little trinkets, toys, tools, cash, compliments, wisdoms, memories, experiences I've received as gifts...scraps so dearly held onto and protected. Hoarded.
We run the risk of choking the giftness out of our gifts. Unless we learn to pass them onto someone else, a gift fades into something else. Gifts are meant to be shared, and maybe it doesn't end with us as the sole recipient. Don't get too attached. As sweet as it was to receive it, work to remain open to the possibility of keeping the giftness alive.
I've slowed down on reading The Gift. But I'll very briefly summarize where I assume the book is going based on what I've read about it.
Hyde begins addresses the reader to say: Every creative impulse, skill and talent you possess is a gift. You risk de-gifting your creativity by not sharing it. It exists inherently as something to be passed along. Gifts are given without expectation of anything in return. Gifts are given out of kindness, love and the joy of giving.