Grammar school mathematics often involve the solving of give-away problems. You remember them. Bobby or somebody has some apples, he gives some away, and we figure out how many the benevolent kid in the equation has left. Answers typically required the use of fingers and toes or whatever counters were gathered from junk drawer scavenging.
Sure, subtraction was the main lesson point, but I always found myself focusing on the act of giving almost as much. Actually, more than the giving, I was intrigued by the receiving. It never felt like there was enough information about the recipient. Don’t get me wrong. I wholeheartedly believe that giving is one of the greatest gifts we bestow upon ourselves. It’s good for the soul and keeps our moral compass dialed in. However, I couldn’t help wondering if Bobby had wasted his apples; misappropriated them. Was the new owner worthy of the commodity?
Today, I rely on this consideration when deciding how much of myself I’ll allow others to have on a daily basis. I imagine that I start each day with a small basket of beautiful fruit. Ten Honey crisp apples to be exact. The apples represent the time and energy I have available for my interactions with others. Every time I’m required to use energy – energy to manage life, not twenty minutes on a treadmill – I’m giving away my fruit.
If I use five pieces on a road raging motorist during rush hour, I won’t have that fruit for my clients when I arrive at work, or my friend when she needs some girl talk at lunch or my children when they come running to greet me once I get home. Most importantly, I run the danger of not having enough energy for my self-care by day’s end.
Healthy and fulfilled living demands that we give away our fruit gingerly. We are not living our best lives – being our best versions – if we endow others and save nothing for ourselves.