A matter of give and take
I was chatting to a friend on the phone last night who was in an uncharacteristically raw emotional space. She said she had 'had enough' - she'd 'given and given and given' all her life and now, when her situation demanded that she receive help herself, there was no-one giving.By setting up a 'pattern' where she gave freely and constantly with no expectation of return - and sometimes, she confessed, 'over giving' because it 'felt so good to give', others had come to rely on this dynamic - they kind of 'expected' this from her and felt no need to give anything in return, materially or on an energetic level. Somewhere in this process she had lost the natural sense of 'give and take' or 'flow' in her relationships that made them feel nourishing and pleasing to her.She felt it was now time to restore equilibrium to her energetic 'balance sheet': and this would require an entirely new way of being. The beautiful thing, to me, was that she accepted the part she played in this dynamic. And I knew that her awareness of what was going on meant that she would be able to challenge the pattern and change.I wasn't aware of the conversation's effect on me personally, however, until I woke up, later that night, with an urge to write down my 'incomings' and 'outgoings'. Not in the traditional sense, however. I wrote down in the leftmost column all the people in my life - my clients, collaborators and friends, giving a line to each. In the second column, the 'outgoings' column, I wrote what I 'gave' to my relationship with each person (I calculated it in terms of time or energy, where it was a particular creative project, but where it was not, I would just put a word that represented what I gave). In the third column - the 'incomings' column - I wrote down a figure, or a word, that represented what I 'received' from the relationship, whether monetary or otherwise. And in the final column, after reviewing the other two columns, I put a simple '+' or '-' or '=' - where '=' represented a balanced sense of 'give and take' in the partnership.It was very revealing. In my personal relationships there was, happily, a pleasing balance - but in some of my more 'business-related' relationships it seemed there was still work to be done (though I'm a 'not-for-profit', it still feels right that there is a balanced energy exchange in every interaction, whether monetary or otherwise.)Then I stepped further back and looked at the picture again. It seemed to me that the Earth was currently doing on a macro level what my friend (and I) had chosen to do on a micro level. She seemed to be in the process of 'reclaiming herself', re-adjusting the balance sheet, after aeons of neglect and abuse. And as part of this, it seemed that all the unjust, unfair, and inequitable systems were surely and steadily breaking down so that new, more balanced systems could rise up in their place. I looked at our global monetary systems (representative of the 'old world' which has to change) and the new equitable economic systems that are being created now - like the local exchange trading systems (LETS) schemes that are popping up in some communities and the local monetary systems (like, in this country, the Totnes pound, for example) - examples of just, equitable systems that are helping to support the unfolding of 'the new'. And I got a picture of the 'new world' that some of us feel is being born, one where give and take is just a matter of being in the flow - and appropriate action just arises as if by magic out of the moment. And this new world of equality and balance cannot be born except through the shattering of the old systems. So fasten your seatbelts, everyone!The final 'piece de resistance', both cementing and confirming my way of thinking came when, in conversation with the organisers of an international conference I was due to facilitate at in Mallorca the following month, I discovered that there had been some kind of misunderstanding - and that, though I was being paid my expenses, my 'usual rates' had not been taken into account - and I was told that there was 'no budget' to pay me for my facilitation work at the event. On a personal level, it didn't matter to me one way or the other if I was being paid or how much I was being paid for it. Equally I had no attachment to going to the event (though I do enjoy doing this kind of thing!). It gave me the opportunity, however, to 'check inside' and see what was right - what was in accord with the 'new energies' and what tallied with the 'old systems' and to align with this. So what did I do? I checked inside and it just felt wrong to do it on this basis - so I cancelled my part in the event!This felt like a very poweful moment in my life: and though I felt quite raw and vulnerable for a little while afterwards, the long-term effect was to make me feel empowered and free - and I'd made one very small step in helping restore balance and harmony on our dear planet!