Try Giving Yourself Away

by Mark Chmiel

Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only gift is a portion of thyself.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

In the late 1940s
David Dunn wrote an article

The reader response was overwhelming
So he expanded the idea into a book—

Try Giving Yourself Away
A chronicle of what started as a hobby

And eventually became
His way of life

His method is simple:
“Stop as you rush through life

Look for all the friendly, thoughtful, courteous things
You can do

All the little human needs
You can fill

Listen to people and learn
Of their hopes and their problems

So that you will be able to contribute
In little ways to their success and happiness”

One of his favorite actions:
To write short notes of specific thanks

To friends and strangers
Restaurant chefs and shop owners

Dunn keeps it simple
It doesn’t have to be a big production

Little amounts of time add up
Two minutes here, five minutes there

He believes that there are a hundred ways to give
And they all start from the heart

So he advises to act immediately on those warm-hearted impulses
When it comes to giving to another

If this all sounds familiar to you
Perhaps it’s because you know Fatima Rhodes

Who gives herself away
As easily as she breathes

One example: When I announced
A gathering to discuss Mev’s The Struggle is One

Fatima ordered three copies from Amazon
To give to me

To pass on to those I might know
Who would want to be part of the discussion

A second example: She gave me
A black Moleskine and set of pens

A third example: Seeing her at the sink
Washing the dishes one potluck after another

Fatima gives with such humaine chaleur
And kindness, courtesy and consideration

I leave you with these words of David Dunn
Which echo Tolstoy’s story of “The Emperor’s Three Questions”—

“Any person of sincerity and good will
Who will persevere in giving himself away more generously

Than he has ever thought of doing up to this minute
Will enjoy a much happier life from now on”

Fatima Rhodes, Matt Miller, Nima Sheth

Fatima Rhodes, Matt Miller, Nima Sheth

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