Gifts that Keep on Giving


“The true measure of a man is how he treats

someone who can do him absolutely no good.”

Samuel Johnson

In the midst of a Marie Kondo inspired clear-out this week, I found a heavy white shoe box, at the back of my wardrobe.  In it, the crystals I have collected on my travels over the years.  Nestled down the side of the box,  wrapped in a soft, red, velvet bag, was a healing crystal wand.  It is made of lapis lazuli, quartz and seven smaller crystals embedded onto a silver strip that runs the length of it.  These seven crystals represent the main chakras.

When June 2016, I was in Leh, Northern India.  Walking back to my accommodation from the Shanti Stupa one evening, I stopped at a stall selling crystals.  I had been travelling, mostly alone, for five months.  Earlier that day, I experienced my first, and only, aggressive encounter on my trip.  I felt thrown, confused and mostly, I felt really alone and scared.

As I browsed, the stall owner pushed this wand into into my hand.  Clasping her hands around mine and I immediately felt steady.  She wore a purple sari and her hands were stained with henna.  There was a light gold chain running from her nose stud to her earring.  A red bindi on her forehead.  She looked up at me and I felt the warmth of her hands.  It was unusual to meet a female stall owner.  I mostly interacted with men as I travelled this country.  She told me that this wand would protect me as I moved through life.  Income wise, it was worth a lot.  Yet she wouldn’t take anything.  I tried to push money into her hand, she laughed and jumped out of my way.  A gift would come back to her in other ways she said.

In other words, I needed this, she didn’t.

By coincidence, I finished reading The Gift by Lewis Hyde this week.  The book brings the reader through the history of gift-giving.  From fairy tales to tribal customs to how creatives today navigate creation and the market place.  It is a thought-provoking read.  A classic exploration of the value of giving over receiving and has lost none of its power since it was first published in 1983.

Margaret Atwood writes in her introduction that, “Gifts pass from hand to hand: they endure through such transmission, as every time a gift is given it is enlivened and regenerated through the new spiritual life it engenders both in the giver and in the receiver”.

The first half of the book is the “Theory of Gifts”.  This is a deep dive into a wealth of anthropological research, that illustrates the function of gift-giving in primitive, tribal communities.  

In addition to this, it is a study on the power of how art and creativity enrich us.  Hyde recounts how Hermes invented the first musical instrument, the lyre, and gave it to his brother, Apollo.  Apollo was so inspired by this, he invented the second musical instrument, the pipes.  Giving the gift of the first creation away made the second creation possible.

“Bestowal creates that empty place into which new energy may flow. The alternative is petrification, writer’s block, ‘the flow of life backed up’ writes Hyde.

By giving an unexpected gift, the positive effects on our society last a long time, it’s a ripple effect. 

With this in mind, when the lady in the purple sari gave me this wand she understood this.  She knew she would be taken care of. 

Soon after, I returned with  a bag of groceries.  Hoping she would receive these from me but she was long gone.  Her stall packed up.  Therefore, I did what she wanted me to do, I handed these gifts over to another person.  A woman breastfeeding her child at the back of a stall, while her husband sold carvings of toads out front, smiled appreciatively as I lay the bag down beside her.

In Adam Grant‘s book Give and Take, he believes that success, development and financial well-being is usually divided into three factors – motivation, ability, and opportunity.  Indeed, he goes a step further and identifies a fourth component – the ability to interact with people.

Adam classifies people Takers and Givers.

He recommends that the best version of ourselves is when our default setting is one of giving.  Extending kindness and generosity.  In fact, when we give, it promotes happiness and win-win outcomes.  When we help another person, we receive in return.  You might not see it straight away, it might simply be a warm- fuzzy feeling that makes you smile.

Has this crystal wand protected me in recent years?  I feel it has.  Simply recounting this memory brings up a sense of comfort and happiness in me.  On a mystical note, Lapis Lazuli promotes inner vision and communication and is connected to the throat.  It specifically works with you to communicate honestly and understand blockages holding you back.  Since this trip to India, I set out to change career.  During the last four years, people have tried to dissuade me, some classifying this change in me as some sort of tragedy.  By the same token, others have remarked on aspects of me that have developed in recent years.

I feel lucky to have met this woman.  The feeling of intimacy and love from others makes life worthwhile.  To feel that affection from someone I didn’t know, someone who saw me and felt the need to reach out?  Well, that is something greater and more beautiful because it widens who I am.  It shows the depth of humanity.  We are interdependent beings, we need each other to lean on and pull up.

We can all pass on and share the the good things in life.  The purpose behind the gift of that crystal wand was someone telling me they saw me, I wasn’t alone, I was safe.

 The power of a gift without conditions, is simply, is a gift that keeps on giving.


Thanks for reading ❤️

You might be interested in this article about procrastination.

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