Longing for Gift Culture

The same way that it took a process of discovery, experimentation, and distillation to nurture plant medicines for human use, for many of us it is a similar process to discover the shape of the medicine we bring to the community. Because our culture doesn’t teach us how to identify and distill our own medicine, or how to offer it to one another in healthy exchange; but rather it exploits our gifts, teaches us to repress our gifts to meet the system’s needs, imbues some gifts with more value than others, and treats all gift sharing as transaction rather than a vital part of healthy community life.

Mothering, as in holding nurturing space for growth and evolution, is part of my medicine. But there is more and I’ve been confused by the need to make a certain amount of money to survive and how to do that in the least compromising way. I was distracted by ideas for online business, ideas that capitalize on who I was rather than who I am now. Every single thing in my life has changed these past five years and I was clinging to what felt safe, what I confidently know, when it comes to work. It is lot safer to sell my services as a bookkeeper or community building consultant, or to write learning content based on what I know, than to face the unknown as a memoir writer and non-commercial/gift economy artist.

I’ve always been a misfit (by Lydia Yuknavitch’s definition – see her TED talk). There isn’t anything other than my white skin that fits in this culture. But I was able to camouflage enough in the nonprofit world of Humboldt County, CA (which is countercultural by nature), to make a decent living without compromising myself more than I could live with. Now there is a small chance I don’t have to conform at all in the expression of my medicine, and that is both exciting and scary. I think being a misfit is part of my medicine, but also makes me more vulnerable to rejection and exclusion the more visible I become in a culture I don’t belong to. I long for a gift culture where all of our medicines are honored, because I don’t known if mine distilled to its purest essence will be in this one.

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