Thursday, December 7, 2017

A Robot Holiday Gift Guide

My friends: it's been a dystopian nightmare/shit tsunami of a year, has it not? (2017: Go home, you've had too many White Russians, you're drunk and grabby). I'm not into the culturally coerced consumerism that runs rampant this time of year. But I'm super into the spirit of generosity and giving. A friend recently posted on FB asking for kindness as he and his family are hurting right now, and it really resonated with me. Everyone has struggles, challenges, heartaches. Everyone is hurting in some way. It takes courage to be vulnerable and ask for what we really need, knowing that people might not "get" it, that they might offer judgments or unsolicited advice instead, thus compounding our hurt. Some people might be struggling so much they don't have any extra strength to ask for what they need. Some people might not even know how to articulate what they need. So I thought I'd make a list of (in my humble opinion) the most invaluable gifts you can give to anyone, friend or stranger, at the holidays or any other time of year.

A Robot Holiday Gift Guide

  • Self-care. You need to eat, hydrate, sleep and do the things that make you happy, regularly. You need to fill up your own reserves of love and compassion, and in doing this, you will have more to give to others. The happier and more at peace you are with yourself, the more light and joy you will radiate out into the world. 
  • Presence. Undivided attention is a wonderful gift. When you're spending time with people, really be with them. Ask questions and really listen to the answers. Take pictures, even if you think you look terrible in pictures. When you're gone the pictures and the memories of the time spent together are all they'll have left of you. 
  • The Space of Grace. This is that little pause, that jolt of compassion that allows you to act from a mindset of gratitude and generosity rather than a mindset of fear and inadequacy. It allows you to not take things personally but instead to see others' unkind words and actions as what they really are - outward projections of their own struggles or hurts. Then you can choose to meet unkindness with awesomeness instead of perpetuating the unkindness.
  • Non-judgment. You don't know more about someone's life experience than they do. Let me repeat that: You don't know more about someone's life experience than they do. So when someone tells you about the way they experience the world, believe them. Don't invalidate their experience by chiming in with your own judgments and opinions. You are not them and you can't know what it's like to be them. The best you can do is listen non-judgmentally and, in doing so, you will expand your understanding of the full range of human experience. 
  • Acceptance. There is so much not-good-enough-itis going around. Give people a much needed break from the constant pressure to be fitter/thinner/richer/happier/better/etc and let them know the truth: they are so fucking enough, just as they are, in whatever body/life they currently inhabit.
  • Thoughtfulness. Gift giving, in the traditional sense (as in "stuff"), is all about thoughtfulness. If you want to give people a physical gift, think about them - about what they like, about what reminds you of them, about what would make them laugh, about what problems or struggles they have and what might ease them a little bit. Give something that shows you were listening, that you understood and remembered what they said, that you know them and what makes them happy, that you're glad to have them in your life. 

Lyric of the moment: " A few years ago, I got invited to your birthday party. I wanted to make an impression, so I walked up and down State Street to the hippie store to buy a nice present for you. I spent $34.95 on a very fancy scented candle. It smelled like strawberry Pop-Tarts and oregano. I rubbed it all over my body and wrapped it up to gave it to you. But here it is. At your garage sale. 25 cents at your garage sale..." ~Nerf Herder "Garage Sale" (This song makes me laugh. Pop Tarts and Oregano? But it also reminds me that the point of giving a gift is to give (no strings attached), and the recipient is free to do whatever they want with it - it's not for you to say or control or judge. 

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