Gifting

The other day I was cooking a welcome home lunch for Partner-in-Crime (back from the Mother Ship) while listening to a Life Matters podcast. The guest was Michael Gawenda, who blogs regularly for Crikey, and he was talking about how getting a dog had provoked the now retired journo to venture out the front door and notice the outside world, nature in particular, having spent forty-odd years living a very internal life.

It was interesting because it coincided with my reading of a commentary on American writer Walt Whitman, whose nature-loving ecstacies similarly inspired his prolific writings about Life in General.

Now, Whitman tends to make Yours Truly blush, not for reasons you might think, but rather because he so totally gives himself over to his need to create. It’s almost embarrassing.

In Lewis Hyde’s book The Gift, he talks about an imperative within gifting cultures, where a gift must be passed on in order to retain its ‘gift-ness’. He says Whitman sees that nature gives him an ecstatic gift, which he willingly passes on to the reader in the form of a poem. Creativity, according to Hyde, is a gift. Something to be shared with others.

That’s one way to look at it, though creativity is often also seen as a compulsion or an affliction. Black dogs which won’t be silenced.

I don’t know the answer to this, but something tells me it’s healthier for the creative spirit to frame it in the positive. Something I like to ponder while cooking up a storm in one of my local gifting heartlands … the kitchen.

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