I looked at a lot of people today, wondering about that $100. Would I give it to the sweet kid who pumped my gas? He was really busy and I was just another gray-haired lady but he indulged me with a genuine moment of connection. What about the young woman eating her (rosemary peanut brittle) ice cream in front of Ruby Jewel? What about the harried man in business attire rushing down the street, seemingly to a job? Or maybe a job interview? Or to pick up the last unemployment check?

I really appreciate all the comments on my first post. I actually expected a lot more controversy and even some negative reactions.  At least a few people must think it is a dumb idea to give away money in such a “non-strategic” way. Some call it “hit and run charity”, or even “dangerous compassion”. I’ve got a foot in that camp myself, being the planner/strategizer that I am by nature. Part of me hopes that the 31 $100 recipients will somehow find each other and together start a non-profit micro-lending enterprise. Now THAT would make a difference!

More about all of this in the days to come. I will be sharing links and resources so if you have read something thought-provoking about money and/or giving, please let me know! (thanks to those of you who have done so already)

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7 Responses to Musings on not giving away $100 today

  1. Kathy Rodgers Pettit says:

    One thought in your blog that I’d like to comment on: be sure that the part of you that has predetermined hopes for the money doesn’t either get in the way or alter your openness to the univeral guidance through all this. What I mean is that even entertaining a fantasy about the 31 people somehow getting together might indicate what YOU really want to do with the money. Could YOU start a micro-lending enterprise with the money? Sometimes the universe gives us direction in unexpected ways, even contrary to the direction we seem to be heading in. I love your random giveaway idea, but I’m just sayin’….

    • Thanks, Kathy! Yes! That really gets to the heart of it. The whole premise seems self-serving if I focus too much on my hopes for what I will get out of it. I don’t want to be TOTALLY random (like just throw the money from the bus window or something). Partly because the human connection is an important piece (but I have to be careful here as well). Partly because I do have some notions about the “right” place for the money to land. That’s exactly what I want to push myself to articulate and challenge. Ultimately, one of my aspirations is to be a bolder and more thoughtful giver going forward after the project is finished. Thanks for your input. Keep it up!

      • Kathy Rodgers Pettit says:

        I do think intention is a big part of how things manifest in our lives, and if you keep your focus on your true intention, there will be opportunities provided to you,and meaningful ones at that. This is a fascinating experiment, not just in giving, but in how we are provided with appropriate, meaningful channels through which to express our own intentions and by which we develop our inner lives to a higher degree. Thank you for being so open and sharing this. It is “giving” me pause to think about my own intentions (with money and otherwise) so you see, your process is already having an effect!!

  2. Penny Gruver says:

    So–I’ve been cogitating on the whole concept of gift giving. My personal definition of a ‘gift’ is something that is given away freely, with no strings or expectations of any return from the giver to the giftee.
    You stated that your intention was to honor your mom’s legacy to you. If that is the intentional foundation for the giving, then I hope you give your money out to whomever you choose, in any way you choose to do it, and other peoples opinions be damned. Like Kathy above, I believe that intention is everything…This is between you and the giftee. I would imagine that the reactions of the people you give the money to will be wide and varied. Once given, your gift will then take on a life of it’s own and, most likely,–you will never know the end ripple of your generosity. You are just releasing it out into the flow of the world.
    I have to say I do love the random approach of it. I couldn’t quite tell if people were ‘earning it” in some way, or you were just totally letting the moment guide you.
    I have thought alot about giving over the years and consider it a significant part of my spiritual practice.

    As you know I do an intentional giving around my birthday each year. This is a deeply personal thing for me and requires much pre-thought. I very consciously choose the gift and the giftee for this process. The outcome of this process is the joy it brings my dear ones as I share the things I treasure, while I practice releasing and simplifying.

    Another facet of my giving practice is that I support a micro-finance lending company (Vittana) where again, I choose a particular group of folks to lend to on a regular basis. I am hoping for a certain outcome here, as I lend only to women over a certain age.
    I also give to certain charitable organizations that I deem worthy. This too is private giving between myself and those organizations. I rotate my giving as things speak to my heart and I am moved by the work being done…
    I think that the concept of giving, like the concept of compassion, helps me remember who I am and my connection to all other beings. I wrote on my facebook yesterday that I believe it is as important to know why we say YES to things as it is to know why we say NO. You have said YES to a wondrous adventure.
    I would love to hear what facets of your mother’s personality you feel will be honored by this month of giving.I only met her a couple of times, but remember her as a spunky gal.
    That you are a generous woman goes without saying, Jill. It is one of the things I loved most about your personality. You give freely of your time and talents to your chosen communities. I remember you telling me about the concept of Tikkun Olam years ago, and your life speaks to that concept in action.
    Beginning with no expectations and an open mind should be an amazing journey. You are following your heart here. I am looking forward to hearing how it all goes.
    Thanks for sharing your very fine self with all of us.

    • Penny- Thank you so much for your thoughts! One of the things I am most hoping for from this adventure is to have conversation about something that, at least in my circles, isn’t talked about enough. The whole issue you raise of “earning it” is a fascinating one. I’m going to try to do some stuff that is totally random, but this is quite against my nature and I feel I can “do better than that”. But can I really? How can any of us know who is truly in need at any one moment? What would that person look like? I want to challenge my ideas about this and test out some of my deeply held assumptions. Thanks for joining in the conversation; it means a lot to me!

  3. John Edmiston says:

    I just logged on to your blog today and have experienced a number of “random” thoughts- although I suspect the whole notion of “random-ness” is not what we might think. I am a very poor, lapsed Buddhist, but I do still harbor the belief in karma, in that all of us are where we are, not due to randomness, but by and though our own past actions and intentions. So very likely any person you give $100 to is in some way deserving through past actions, and even if they aren’t, every time you give away $100 you are probably accumulating some kind of karmic energy that will over time contribute to some kind of balance- all very theoretical and poorly articulated… I have “randomly” given various amounts to the lady who sold street sheets by the BART station near the office on occasion- was it to make me feel good or to make her life better? When I first noticed her she was well dress, neat, clean, rather prim, obviously not used to asking for money, quietly stood by the entrance to the station with her street sheets. I found out we shared the same birthday, and her name was Ilene. Over time she started to look more worn, and a bit haggard, and it was harder to stay clean, and neat. I’d bring her sun-block and once I brought her some face cream when she obviously had badly scraped and lacerated her face in some way. She said she was epileptic and had fallen, but I suspect domestic violence. I didn’t always buy a paper, but sometimes I gave her a dollar on the way in or out, and once in a while I gave her $10 or $20 so she could replace the reading glasses she’d lost, or buy a hot meal, and she’d tell me about how the police took away her shopping cart and everything she had in a “sweep.” And recently she got an apartment through social services where she would be able to live and have a permanent address. But sometimes I found myself hoping she wasn’t at her usual place, because I only had a few dollars in my wallet and I didn’t want to give her one, and felt resentful of the expectation that I presumed she felt….And then last month I found out she was dead. Drug overdose. And I found out that the reason she was homeless was that she had been a school teacher, and a student in her class pulled out a gun one day and killed himself in front of her and the rest of her students, and she had a break, and her life fell apart….So did my $20 help? Did the conversation? Did any of it? In my heart I believe that it did, and that when ever we feel an urge to be giving in any way it’s a blessing to both parties, the giver and the receiver, as trite as that often sounds, maybe because it’s such a simple truth…sorry to go on so long- it looks like your actions have triggered a lot of thought- not a bad thing these days- and I guess now I know how I feel about your giving away $100 every day- it’s a good thing…

    • Wow. What a heartbreaking story. I am sure your kindness honored Ilene in a way that WAS meaningful. Thank you so much for sharing all your thoughts. I agree that the urge to be giving IS a blessing, even when the outcome is uncertain. Thanks so much for following along; I hope to see you soon.

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