“for it’s in the giving that we receive.” saint francis of assisi
when i was way too young i attended a program called smoke enders. it was 1978 and i was, i recall, the youngest person there – a testament to my parent’s love and also to some internal longing to take a deep breath of fresh air. i’d felt the world pressing in on me and i ached to expand beyond the confines of my adolescent angst – to be filled with the neutral buoyancy of life – to be who i yearned to be once again!
i learned a lot – a lot about habit … how it begins, how it’s sustained and how difficult it is to shift or change. but, at thirteen, these were nothing but distant stories – i had no basis of comparison and there existed no neuroscience that could help me to understand. i wanted something to hold, something that could help me measure.
so, when we were told that we needed to sock away what we shelled out every day for our habit, i was curious and i paid attention. that was something i understood and could hold; i’d been working at the local five and dime for almost a year and i liked the way i felt when i got that payment of $43 every week!
jeez! life was sweet!
day by day, i’d put away that 85 cents (yup! that’s what a pack cost back then). at first, i was eager – anxious with the possibility of what i could buy with the money! but, after a few weeks, it waned. it waned about the same time that i started to remember the sensation of inhaling that cigarette – craving just one more drag!
well, that passed too and before long i was well on my way again. this time, though, i shifted my attention: instead of dreaming about the result and some happiness in the future, i started to pay attention to the feeling of the money in my hand … how the coins would slip through my fingertips – the sound as they filled the jar – how at first, they announced their hunger with such great conviction, and how after, when full, they gathered quietly to catch the next coin. i began to form such gratitude for their journey, although, i can’t lie, on occasion, i wondered if any of them came out of anyone’s butt!
as you can imagine, i found myself with a heck of a lot of money at the end of the year – $182.25 to be exact. but i also had the gift of learning how it was earned.
this i understood: attention was the prospect and there was a formula to this payroll; in order to get what i wanted, i had to give my attention to what i wanted to receive and that would engage the will and effort necessary to bring it to me. in this way, whatever i put my attention up-on was what i manifested and what i manifested was given right back … in spades.
i was sharing with others through my attention, giving effort and enthusiasm to my work. even my goal to quit smoking and be healthier was not solely self serving – the things that i wanted for myself also served the world, and, at a bare minimum, didn’t harm or interfere with the happiness of others, including my parents who were relieved that my lungs were safe!
i knew with clarity that there was nothing in life that could be gained in efficacy unless i skillfully payed attention and willfully acted.
and, the very intention of attention was the gift that offered far greater rewards than the moccasin boots i had my eye on. paying attention was the work, and payment was a sort of atonement – the settling up of choices that would consider the whole – not just the part that wanted to take a drag and push responsibility for the health of my body away.
a lifetime later, what rises is that something very sacred was revealed through this experience: that the way you become the person you long to be is to give attention to experience – with intention and love. when we do, all those things that appear to happen to us can completely shift. just think of the payment we would receive in return – to come home to center – calm, available to expand into life once again!
the lesson is, pay as you wish!
if you wish for kindness, share kindness with yourself and be kind. if you wish for trusting relationships, trust yourself and be trustworthy – if you wish for a raise at work, raise your game and be diligent – if you wish the world to meet your needs, listen inside, and be present for the needs of the world and so on. the important thing is that your wish includes the benefit of a larger whole, trusting the effect of the cause.
it all makes me think of westley and buttercup in the movie princess bride: when she’d boss him around he’d always respond with, “as you wish” when what he really meant was “i love you.” i think this sounds a lot like attention and payment — to be present for life’s work is the unconditional reciprocity of loving ourselves – that’s when what we wish for others comes back in spades!
westley and buttercup! jeez! ain’t life sweet!
** what do you desire? what aren’t you receiving in life? learn how to pay as you wish NOW!