Start Again


The statement seems simple when you first look at it, but over the years I have discovered it is very complex. This has been the basis of my personal philosophy of life since 1994. When it first entered my consciousness I thought I had it all figured out. This was the answer. This was the meaning of life.

Give everything you can to everyone you know.
All those who exist are unique, independent universes with their own truths and their own realities.
Understand and accept this and you will know the answer.

This was the full text of what entered my consciousness as I passed from life into death and back again. There was more, but these three lines were what repeated over and over to make sure I would remember. The repetition of the phrases was done in such a way that I would remember verbatim, for any changing of the words altered their meaning. This, I was told, is the meaning of life. This is the answer everyone is supposedly looking for. Does it make sense? Yes, but it begs to be interpreted and accepts a variety of interpretations. It tells me there are no absolutes. There is individual reality and there is a collective reality. Mingling our individual reality with the collective reality allows for acceptance. Stepping too far outside what is accepted as collective reality sends you off to the group home for medication and therapy.

Give everything you can to everyone you know.

Define "everything." Well, you really can't except to say it is all things. Can you really give away everything that you have, to empty yourself onto the laps of others? No. That is why "everything" does not stand alone.

Give everything you can to everyone you know.

This is where matters begin to get complicated. You are able to cut off your left arm and hand it to the guy at the toll booth. Well, you can if you are able to stand a lot of pain, but it is possible. It makes no sense to do this. He probably doesn't want your left arm and you probably need it for something. "Everything you can" is more related to giving what you are able to give without losing sight of yourself.

Say someone needs your help. Their life is falling to pieces and they are an emotional wreck. You are a strong person who has dealt with troubled friends before and have been able to see them over rough seas. You are able to help this person. If you are able to help, you must help them. However, say the tide changes. They aren't letting you help them. They are getting more and more distraught. Your attempts to help are seen by them as personal attacks. They turn on you and attack you in kind because they see this as a way to defend themselves from your perceived attacks. You are no longer able to help them. It has unraveled and turned into a war of words and unkindnesses on both sides of the fence. If you continue to try to help and they see your efforts as an attack, their perception is what matters. You pull out. You are no longer able to give in this situation. What you are trying to give is not accepted and is interpreted as something else. To continue to give is futile and counterproductive. It is time to pull out.

When what you are giving is taking too much out of you and threatens to destabilize you, then you are trying to give more than you are capable of. If you allow yourself to be drained of energy you will have less to give others. If you allow one or more experiences to make you cynical, then you have given more than you were capable of and it has made you less than who you were. This is giving more than you are capable of giving. To open yourself to others is often rewarding but sometimes dangerous. A martyr is only as good as the value of that for which he or she made the sacrifice.

Give everything you can to everyone you know.

This is complicated on several levels and can be seen in many ways. Who do we really know? Are we talking about those we have intimate knowledge of? Are we talking about friends and family? Are we talking about everyone we meet, right down to the crazy guy in the fedora at the bus stop?

In my experience with death, the first thing I saw after collapsing and passing on was an overgrown jungle river. There were many people on the shore calling to me. Some I recognized and some I did not. Most of the time I use this as the measuring stick for "everyone you know." More recently this website provided a new measuring stick. There are people here I feel that I "know" and yet that is based on reading their contributions here and brief messages back and forth. When you sit down and think about it, there are more people that you know than just those you really know well. The statement doesn't say "everyone you know really well." It says "everyone you know."

Give everything you can to everyone you know.

Yeah, it can be broken apart into two different sentences. That isn't too important. You can, however, do what you know. The key component to me has always been an advisory against withholding. When we see someone broken down on the side of the road, struggling and obviously frustrated with the status of their vehicle, what do we do? If we are mechanically inclined, do we stop and offer a helping hand? What if we have a cell phone in our car? Do we stop and ask if they might need to call a tow truck or a friend? More often than not we drive right by and figure someone else will stop. Or we mutter to ourselves, "What a dumbass."

There are lessons to be learned. I used to drive right past people whose cars had let them down. I never thought twice about it. Then, in 1999 I was on my way home from work. My Honda was a reliable car that four months before had been gone over completely by my mechanic. I was in the midst of a bankrupcy and had no access to cash or credit cards in the event of an emergency. There are gory details, but it is best to just say the engine blew and I was fifty miles from home. I had to push my car half a mile to get it onto a side street and out of the road. It was a two lane road with no shoulder. It was midnight and there were no street lights. A Camaro clipped my hip, as I had to push and steer at the same time. No one stopped to help but dozens of cars drove by. Then I walked two miles to find a phone.

In more recent times I have stopped and asked people if there is anything I might be able to do. I helped an older woman change a flat tire. I drove a guy to a phone to call a tow truck. A few months ago, the shift cable snapped in my Saturn three blocks from my apartment. Once again I was in the middle of a two lane road with no shoulder. I began pushing. A fire truck appeared out of nowhere. Three firemen jumped out and told me to get in and steer while the fire truck cruised behind us with its lights flashing. They pushed me to my street. I tried to thank them, but they had already jumped back into the fire truck and gone off into the night.

Some people call that "karma." I call it the natural order of things. It is what happens when people follow the words. "Give everything you can to everyone you know." I didn't have to help that woman change her tire, but I could and I did. The firemen didn't have to help me push my car, but they could and they did.

Sometimes the people we know are just fellow travelers on the road.
Sometimes the road is literal and sometimes it isn't.
There are people out there you can give something to.
There are hundreds of excuses not to.


Then you start to see how powerful darkness really is.

The most difficult thing about the mantra of give everything you can to everyone you know is that emotions get the better of you. You are able to give something to someone that they want or need. You are able to fill a void or bring a smile to the face of an unhappy or bitter person. You are able in some way to help guide a person away from danger and onto a better path. You are able to do all this and more, but once you truly engage in giving everything you can to someone it is very easy to become emotionally involved.

One thing that commonly happens is you give freely of yourself to help someone who has fallen onto a difficult path and you are glad when they start to steer their way back onto the road to somewhere else, some place you believe will be better for them, and then they go off that road you helped steer them towards. You feel frustrated and upset, even angry, because all that you did and all that energy you expended seems to have been for nothing. In reality you don't know what will happen to them further down the road, and maybe what you gave them will, in the end, be very valuable, but in the moment you feel crushed. Logically you can say that you gave everything you could and now you move on, but one becomes emotionally invested, whether one wants to be or not, in the person you gave everything you could to. This leads to feelings of bitterness that can lead you into not wanting to expend energy on anyone else, or in extreme cases can lead to self isolation.

This is generally in the category of giving more than you can give, leading to negative energy, but it isn't so simple. You were fully capable of giving that which you gave and gave freely. You did not try to do more than you could do, but along the way emotions complicated the picture. You planted seeds and now you want very badly to be able to see something grow from those seeds. You've come to feel a need to see the fruits of your labor. If you do not you feel as if your energy was wasted.

It is important to remind ourself that the work needs to be its own reward, which is again easier said than done. Those pesky emotions mess up the garden. We are human and it is human nature to want to receive something in return for our efforts. Even if we are as close to selfless as a person can be we still want to see something happen.

I've spent about five years working with troubled kids. A lot of them have been abused, neglected and otherwise greatly disappointed by adult authority figures. It has become their nature to be distrustful of adults and angry towards authority figures. Sometimes the closer you get to establishing trust and respect the more resentful they become because it was those adults who they trusted and respected in the past who screwed them over.

When you understand the circumstances behind an unexpected result of what you give to another person, it makes it easier to accept and deal with. You grow, over time, to understand that what you do does not always produce immediate results. It can plant a seed that blossoms at some point in the future where it might have the exact effect you anticipated in the present or produce a completely different result that is still a measurable positive result of your actions.

This all takes into account the human tendency to expect results from actions taken. It takes a strong person to give without needing to see any result of that giving. What becomes even more difficult is when you enter a triangle.

What I call "The Triangle" is something akin to a love triangle, and in fact can be exactly that. The Triangle takes it a step further. When you give to another person you are generally attempting to fill a want or need, or trying to alleviate a problem of some kind. That problem can take many different forms. A person who is unhappy with their life always has some kind of problem, or problems, behind that unhappiness. Just as a person who is hungry can benefit from you giving them food, a person who is unhappy can benefit from you giving them something that brings them happiness. When that person's lack of something requires more than just giving a single thing to them, a single time, in a one off effort you continue to give what you can towards the effort of relieving their suffering. What creates The Triangle is when you give everything you can over an extended period of time in an effort to alleviate someone's unhappiness, emptiness, sorrow, etc. You are now in a triangle shaped relationship with that person and the nature or source of their problem.

This sort of giving is not based in the giving of material things. Real giving rarely is, although it will sometimes take that form. You give of yourself and this requires the expending of emotional energy and leads to emotional involvement on a fairly high level. This is what creates The Triangle. And the danger is that you will end up declaring war on the source of or reason for their problems instead of continuing to give everything you can to them. You take on their burdens to alleviate their struggle. This eventually, in most cases, becomes counterproductive because you stop giving and begin taking. You take on their battles when you need to be helping them learn how to fight on their own, to find solutions that work for them, not do it your way by your own hand.

The other danger when you give at a high level of yourself to another, even in the most selfless and well intentioned ways, is you begin to see them in a new light. When you encourage strength in another, for example, you see their strength. When you encourage them to achieve, you see their ability to achieve. On the one hand, while dealing with a child this can be beneficial in many ways. When dealing with an adult, especially one who is, how do you say in your language, of your sexual preference, there is a very interesting and potentially dangerous dynamic that comes into play. You see and encourage the good in them, you encourage their strength and remind them of all the things that make them wonderful and unique... it isn't too hard to figure out where this may lead.

With only one notable exception in the past seventeen years, this has been how I have fallen in love with women. I am drawn to women in trouble, damsels in distress if you must, and I find myself unable to resist giving all I can to them in order to lead them out of that trouble. At times I have found that love to have been an illusion. When the trouble passes and they are happy and free I find myself feeling out of place and unnecessary, even as they may want me to stay I become restless and uncomfortable and suddenly unnecessary. Love drove me to alleviate their burdens and lead them towards happiness and that was all it was. At other times that love has proven to be very real and very enduring.

The Triangle needs to be recognized, as early as possible, to avoid trouble down the road. Whether that trouble comes from finding yourself obsessed with or at war with the issue that troubles another or finding yourself dedicating yourself with your full heart to giving to that person. Knowing what is happening allows you to avoid a quagmire of your own or disappointing another with promises you become unable to keep. Only give what you are capable of giving, and avoid giving while allowing the appearance that your giving will continue indefinitely. This is similar to the advice I give to people who are pursuing a love interest, which is to never do something at the start of a relationship, or during your pursuit of a person's love, that you are not willing to do later on. Avoid creating false expectations.

Which brings me to love, which is not about possession. It is not about conquest and it is not about control. It is about the selfless act of giving everything you are to someone you know, which is a step beyond "give everything you can to everyone you know." There are many forms of love, but this is a deep and soul changing love that I am talking about, the kind one feels for one's child, a parent or close family member, a very dear and close friend, and also that deep romantic love that links you to another person at the deepest level.

I hold myself to a higher standard than what I expect from other people. I have spent seventeen years studying in depth who I am, what I am capable of, and I interpret my life through a mythological cycle that makes it easier and also more enjoyable to follow the paths of my existence. Over the past few years I have been deeply tested, all but destroyed, and in the end I came out smiling. It wasn't until recently that I felt both the ability to give everything I am to the aid of another person but the need to do so. While I routinely give everything I can to everyone I know, everything I am has been kept under close guard and behind an advanced security system to avoid the damage I suffered through a length encounter with someone who made it their mission to destroy me.

Loss of control is not always what it seems. It doesn't always spiralling into oblivion. Sometimes it takes a very different form that is difficult to recognize. When you find in another person something that inspires you, and in my case brought me back to myself and filled me with new life, it is easy to lose both focus and control. In giving everything you can to this person to bring them something you perceive to be lacking in their life, you can suddenly find yourself giving everything you are in part because you are expressing thankfulness for what they, generally unknowingly, brought about within you. It can also cause you to develop false expectations of your own, either than they will return in kind what you are giving, giving all they are in exchange for you giving all that you are, or that you will idealize them as someone they are not.

I am aware of these dangers and remind myself not to fall into those traps, but there are other dangers not so easily controlled by recognition and avoidance. I've never found a formula to avoid falling in love. I don't believe anyone ever really has.

And so I fell in love, not with an idealized vision of someone or with anticipation of a return in kind. I fell, not even realizing it until it happened, and found myself in The Triangle. While I remain without antipation of return in kind, something highly unlikely to occur, part of me aches with a desire for it. That cannot be avoided. It is wrong to avoid letting the other person know what you have come to feel for them, but it now creates some level of pressure on them that may now create a host of problems. There may be guilt if they come to believe they led you on and cannot return your love. There may be uncomfortableness. You may find yourself no longer able to give anything at all to them now because of how they interpret your feelings for them. You may have ended up creating a new mess amidst the one you were trying to help clear up.

This is where you must re-evaluate "give everything you can to everyone you know." Can you control your desire and your own emotional wants in this situation? If you cannot you will more than likely need to step off the stage and in doing so take responsibility for what has happened, doing what you can to alleviate the guilt the other person may feel because they will on some level feel responsible for encouraging these feelings in you even if they did not. If you can put your emotional wants and desires in check there may be another road.

Once upon a time I found a road, and that road took me into the arms of another woman. It may not have been the perfect answer, but it did produce feelings of relief from guilt in the person in question, although on another level it also gave the impression that I was not completely honest. It is not a road I wish to take again, in part because it is what I always seem to have done throughout my history.

I am able to separate wants and needs. The wants can be placed in check as I reconcile them as unrealistic. The needs are what I concentrate on. What are my needs? My need is to feel that I am bringing some level of happiness into her life, some relief from the storm, or as I once said, "I could be satisfied with knowing I make her smile at least once a day, every day." It isn't completely selfless, because as I learned recently, I feel really bad when I perceive myself making her uncomfortable or stressed with my presence. The act of giving to her makes me happy as long as I know what I give makes her happy.

In the end it is the true nature of giving everything you can to everyone you know. It is the production of the feeling within yourself that produces joy or satisfaction as a result of giving to others. And the true nature of being able to give everything you are to another person comes from giving everything you are, not giving with the anticipation of return in kind.

Welcome to the dawn.

Author's note: There was a certain confusion in one reader's interpretation of this text, considering what is being done here as enabling behavior. It is actually intended to be the opposite of that. One cannot give more than they are capable of giving, which means anything that creates a negative energy drain on the person giving, that is unhealthy and counterproductive. As far as enabling, when you give of yourself to another person you should never be encouraging maladaptive behavior. That is to say, supporting them in doing things that are self-destructive, hurtful to others or in any way counterproductive to their health - physical, emotional or mental.

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