Hey, I’m glad you’re here! I need to tell you some really important things.
Your need for some kind of instruction manual is valid.
Your need for an income that doesn’t take more than you’re able to give just to get it, is valid.
Your exhaustion and the way you burn the candle at both ends: I’ve been there. I think most of us have.
You’ve worked so hard, and you’ve tried your best.
Some of the lessons you learned — heck, probably all of them — have made you look back and wince at some of the choices you made when you were younger, but that’s okay. We can only do the best we can with what we know at the time.
And here’s something else important: you aren’t alone.
For all my talk of community, I know that many of us (and sometimes, me included) don’t really know if we feel like we are actually connected to other people in the communities we move in. Sometimes Facebook feels like the most ridiculous exercise in asking for attention and never getting what we hoped for out of it. Sometimes Twitter feels exactly like yelling into a cave, and getting a cloud of bats flying in your face instead of conversations, or connections, or something that feels real.
Not always, but sometimes.
Building communities is hard work, and it has to be done on an individual level, but in ways that are aware of how we are already connected, and of how we could be connected. Reciprocity helps us build interconnected, interdependent communities. And it is hard work too, but it’s the kind of hard work that is satisfying because there is a reason for it and a way to measure the success or failure of our efforts.
Reciprocity can help us build lives, and businesses, and work that has the potential to feed us, clothe us, and honor the work we do. It has the ability to create mutually sustainable relationships with the land, with our families, with our animals, with the tools and the buildings and the machines we use to make a living out of what we’ve been given.
Reciprocity helps us honor our own worth and needs, because we have to know ourselves like this in order to honor and understand the worth and needs of others.
There are two things I can offer you, because I think that you need my help to sink more deeply into the practice of reciprocity.
First, I would like to invite you to ask for help from me. (Yes, I am exactly this kind of jerk.)
What is a thing that you need? What is a thing that is bothering you, a problem you have every piece to but the one that makes it solvable? What is a burden you want to put down?
I may not be able to give you the help that you ask for, but I can listen, and I can remind you that you matter.
In reciprocity for my time, my wisdom, and my experience, I ask that you pay either with money, or with the work of your hands. You can tell me ahead of time what you want to offer in exchange, as long as you feel you’ve had enough time to think it through.
Second, I made an online community space for me, and others with me, to make and pull apart and rebuild and iterate on models of reciprocity that help us live in harmony with the truth of who we are, both individually and together.
The World Tree Collective is a place where you can find community, find help, get mentoring, or just have a space that isn’t Facebook to relax and laugh and make awful jokes.