I’m working on this theory for life. It comes from commonly accepted advice about money. I’ve always heard that when you make money, you should learn to use it three different ways. Spend some, save some, give some.
I think about it all the time, wondering how it could apply to every part of life – my energy, my time, and my love. Every part of me, all the time, trying to spend it (the whole live-like-you-were-dying thing), save it (I’m thinking this would happen in prayer, on vacation, and any time when we draw back to renew our strength), and give it–which seems obvious yet I think sometimes we label as giving what’s really only spending.
I think this theory, if I can perfect it, is brilliant, because it seems so very balanced. But I have found since facing a scary disease twice that I’m not so big on the saving. I have this feeling that since we can’t know how many more days we get, I’d hate to die with all these resources I was saving for a rainy day. For my children and grandchildren, yeah, that makes sense. But the rainy day thing doesn’t resonate so much with me anymore.
And then there’s this. It’s my favorite paragraph from THREE BY ANNIE DILLARD, her books on nature, childhood, and writing. If my brush with death makes me want to spend everything I have today since there may not be a tomorrow, this paragraph makes me want to give it. Both thoughts could mess with the balance I’m going for here, except that in my heart I believe the balance will come if at any given moment I’m either spending it all, giving it all, or saving just a little. Dillard says it this way:
One of the few things I know about writing is this: Spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.
I’ve mentioned before that every time I write, whether a chapter in my book or a blog post or a thank-you card, I wonder if it’s the last good thing I’ll ever say, the last time I’ll manage to string words together with any kind of clarity or beauty. This quote convinces me to give it anyway, all of it, every time.