Giving a Gift Without Expecting Anything in Return
Stoic Breath w/ Steve Beattie. Every Wednesday @ 7:00 AM ET. RSVP here.
Shadowplay: Motherhood and Shadow w/ Lisa Marchiano. March 3rd @ 2:00 PM ET. RSVP here.
Scenes: Load-Bearing and Ephemeral w/ Sarah Perry. March 3rd @ 7:00 PM ET. RSVP here.
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The Rise of Interintellect w/ Anna Gát. March 15th @ 3:00 PM ET. RSVP here.
March 2nd, 2021
I started the coaching in resonance practice on January 21st and my last conversation is starting soon. I will have had 48 conversations after this last one, and this has happened within 41 days. There was only one person who I talked to twice, which means I had 47 unique conversations. I had a conversation almost every day, sometimes I had two per day.
I was going to open up another segment of coaching sessions in March, but I have been procrastinating on doing so. I am finding there is wisdom in my procrastination these days, and about an hour ago I decided not to do them for this month. I am financially incentivized to do them, because the financial gifts I received after a session has been a good source in supplementing the Patreon gifts I have been receiving. This project is not about being seduced by financial incentives though.
I do not want to be forced to play that game, as I will start making dysdaimonic decisions if I do. The financial gifts did exceed my expectations. Most fell between the suggested range of $100-200, and a bunch generously fell outside that range as well.
A few people did not provide a gift at all however. That kind of hurt, and I confess that it filled me with annoyance when that happened. My Stoicism kicked in right away though, and I engaged in that delicious amor fati. This was proceeded by the following thought: give a gift without expecting anything in return. That thought helped orientate me eudaimonically. That being said, while this is a gift economy, it is still an economy.
I am going to be selective with people who I will have second conversations with, if I decide to open up this practice again. I am not going to have conversations with people who are not in the position or disposition to provide me a gift. I am also willing to say no to second conversations—regardless of how generous the gift was—if I do not sense I can be or should be in service towards the person.
This being said, the experiment overall was fucking amazing. The vast majority of conversations were beautiful, and so random. I learned a lot, and I did feel like I was indeed in service towards most of my interlocutors, and towards their daemonic mission. I am actually very excited to do more, so I do not know why I am stopping now.
So why am I stopping now? It was financially beneficial, it was very enjoyable, and it was deeply rewarding. Maybe I am experiencing burnout? Sometimes I do not know how I am doing everything I am doing honestly. But no, that is not it either. I am not that burned out. I am pretty ridiculous actually, as I feel like I could still 10x my activities. The thumos is pretty wild right now.
As Saint Christoph knows too well, acting with a wild thumos is not always wise. I do not know why I am stopping this thing, but I am being asked to stop. Yep, that daemon thing again. It feels right to stop basically, and I am going to trust that, and see where this trust takes me. I sense I am going to a place where I am not allowed to be predictable, and I need to surprise even myself.
The majority of people who booked sessions in this practice were non-attendees of in-person sessions at The Stoa, but were regular readers of these journals. This also surprised me. It made me inspired to continue writing here. Why do people like these journals so much? It is kind of weird. Well, people have been telling me why, and the throughline is basically this: they are authentic.
Yeah, they are. Like my former therapist was going on about with his self-authoring program (which I took and benefited from): being authentic is about authoring one’s life. The best practice for this is the Stoic journaling practice of “ta eis heauton,” which is what these journals are all about.
One of my conversational partners from the coaching practice said she was impressed about how I can show up pretty much every day and write. I guess this is a skill. To be honest, you can tell me to stop whatever I am doing and tell me to write something, and I will have something to write.
I am basically writing about what is alive, and there is always something that is alive. It is a simple practice really, slapping a word on this page, one that feels resonant with this sense of aliveness. This is how I am authoring my life, and I guess the thing that is different here is that I am doing it publicly and sharing it with people, most of whom I do not know.
I watched a clip from Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead—talking about Neal Cassady—after I wrote about him on Sunday. He was gushing about Cassady, and this part caught my attention: it was so incredible, his output. He was the first person I met where he himself was the art. He was the artist, and he was the art also. And he was doing this consciously as well, and he worked with the world.
Maybe that is what I am doing with these journals. I am an artist who is becoming the art. I do think it is wise to make the tiny slice of this reality we are response-able for as beautiful as we can. Maybe this is why I am being asked to step away from the coaching practice for now.
It takes a lot of time and energy to hold space for others. I am pretty good at holding space for others, but right now I have to hold space for myself. There are aspects of life that require my focus, and these are aspects that can become more beautiful.
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