Hey all. It’s been awhile. Sorry about that. First off, the flask. Coming back from Little Tokyo in LA, I found this great shop that carried some amazing Japanese whiskeys. So, this one made it back home with me and into my flask: Hibiki Suntory whiskey: Japanese Harmony.
Stinginess initially makes me think of holding back. Not giving your all. Or maybe the idea of holding back with some deeper purpose. Like holding back out of fear or a desire to make sure you are full first. The easiest place to get stuck for me exists in two places. First, the temptation of giving lip service to being generous, but holding back when it comes to those places where it hurts to give. It reminds me of the Bible story I learned as a child about the Widow’s mite. The widow who gave almost all she had and it was just a very small amount compared to the rich folks who gave more but it cost them way less. This might apply as well to those who can give money, but are hesitant to give time. Those who can give their time, but are reluctant to give money. I suppose when it comes to being stingy, it’s worth thinking about how carefully we guard what we treasure. And what we are truly willing to give that comes at a cost.
The second thing that comes to mind is the benefit to being seen. If the opposite of stinginess is being gracious or generous, then isn’t there a gain to this when we are seen this way by others? Doesn’t this create a sense of distance or being owed? So, if I truly want to practice the avoidance of being stingy, I suppose this should start with a willingness to part with things that others desire from me. A sense of giving.
I can’t recall if it was middle eastern concept or not, but I remember growing up watching bugs bunny. And I remember something about an episode where someone visited someone else’s house and there was this custom if you admired something, they gave it to you (I have this vague memory of Daffy Duck carrying away a bag of things when he abused this rule). This may have all happened in my mind. I clearly need to re-watch some TV.
Anyway, so I find myself reflecting on this idea. The giving away of things, not for personal gain or some spiritual good karma, but more as a practice of being thoughtful regarding the needs of others while also remembering not to hold onto anything in this world too tightly. And maybe that is the lesson about avoiding stinginess. It keeps the you from being too attached to your own needs, your own things and focused more on the pleasure of others.
I suppose with anything; I can take this concept too far. Giving away all possessions and ending up avoiding my responsibilities to my wife and kids, my friends and work. There might be a purity in that, losing possessions and living an ascetic life. A favorite book of mine given to me by a friend early in my career is the Wisdom of the Desert Fathers. This encapsulates some of these ideas of sacrifice and focus on a world other than this one.
But then again, there is also something in living up to the attachments around us that we nurture and love. Perhaps the lesson here for me is that these attachments are should not be limited, but expanded. There was this graphic that went around the internet a few months back about making a bigger table. Let me see if I can find it here.
That we are more when we give more.
So, with that, I’m off to share my Hibiki Suntory with any who are interested.