It feels like a thousand years ago, but is really only ten, I gave my life partner of that time, a huge, human sized, teddy bear. I carried it on a flight, even arranged for a spare seat on the plane for him. It was one of those "cute romantic and special gifts" you give someone you hope stays playful and joyful in love with you. It cost me about half the gold in the Reserve Bank of Australia. Nice....
I gave it in what I thought was an unconditional gesture of my heart, but unconditional it was not.
I suitably shocked my friend when she picked me up at the airport. It was as big if not bigger than her and with the beautiful bow of gift around it's neck drew all sorts of ooooh's and aaaaaah's and made most of Adelaide's international airport swoon with romance for a morning. It was love, and yes, it was mine. Unconditional.
My friend dropped me at my hotel, I checked into what was to be "our" hotel room. My first meeting was at 9.00am so my friend went home to pick up her night bag and a few clothes so we could share our delicious hotel room and a romantic weekend. All was great.
When she arrived back, I asked her about Teddy. Where's Teddy might have been my sophisticated way of suggesting he spend the weekend with us in the hotel room. It was all part of the champagne, roses and generosity I felt would make this a spectacular and memorable weekend
"I gave it to my Niece" says my friend...
It was an exceptional moment. Hundreds - many hundreds - of dollars, flying with it, building myself up for a special moment, romance filling the air, roses, champagne, and WHAT? She owned it for 10 minutes?
Brilliant insight... in the following years as I travelled the world running my Real Spirit Retreats, I would host a game based on Teddy and his short life for a huge cost. I'd ask attendees to return on the second day of their retreat with a gift for somebody in the room, something important for them to give away, something to let go of, symbolic or material. Attendees would come to day two, and I'd ask them to randomly partner up, and exchange the gift.
I'd see that look on people's faces, that generosity, that warmth that comes from giving, that wonderful happiness that comas from doing good for others, and in many cases I'd see a real emotional unburdening as people gave away important things that did, in truth, belong to the past.
Then, I'd ask those who received the gift, to gift that gift to someone else.
Happiness was replaced with anger. Resentment steamed from ears like a boiling kettle, some people used laughter to unravel that nervous knot in their stomach, some complained to me, few enjoyed the fact that "Teddy was given away."
We often say "I love you" - we say it to our children, to our partner, to parents and sometimes close friends. That "I love you" is a Teddy gift. We hope, when we give it, that it sticks where we landed it. And yet, when a partner leaves, a child defies us, a company changes things, a relative dies, we slump into "Post Teddy Resentment" - our love was not gifted unconditionally, it had, like my Teddy gift, an expectation attached.
Many times we give love in order to control someone, or, we love in order to get what we want. Our giving is often conditional. Like my Teddy, I doubt if I'd have spent that money knowing that the term of "joy" would be no more than an hour. The gift had an outcome, and so was conditional.