The Gift of Giving

I’ve recently heard three heart-warming stories of ‘giving’. Although they come from different areas of life – surf, coffee and music – they all embody the same inspiring spirit of giving.

Alternative Surfboards

1.       There was a great thread on surf website Magicseaweed started up just before Christmas by a guy called Finlay. The idea behind the thread is that instead of selling his surfboard on to someone he didn’t know, Finlay offered up his old stick for free – but with the proviso that the person to claim the board would in turn offer up one of his/her own surfboards. Within thirty minutes on a dull winter morning, someone had claimed Finlay’s board and offered up a board of his own – a trend which continued on and on. And we’re not talking about any old board being offloaded here but decent and well-loved pieces of surf equipment, including a Fluid Juice board. What a nice and organic way of making use of those boards which have been loved but are collecting dust in the garage, no?

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Joni Mitchell singing ‘For Free’

2.    Feel Good Coffee

At a small locally owned coffee shop in South Carolina, a customer paid her bill and left an extra 100 bucks, saying she wanted to pay for everyone who ordered after her until the money ran out. Inspired by this one act of kindness, more and more people now do the same thing – apparently some people drop by to donate without even buying a coffee. What can we learn from this? A shot of kindness is apparently better than a shot of caffeine!

Thanks to the most excellent and ever-giving ‘Do Lectures’ for this great feel good coffee story.

3.     Gil Scott Heron and Giving

Gil Scott Heron’s ‘The Last Holiday’ is a must-read memoir for any real music fan. The aim of these beautifully poetic memoirs is not so much to tell his own story, rather record the tireless effort that Stevie Wonder put in to make Martin Luther King’s birthday a national holiday. One of my favourite anecdotes is how an already broke Gil turned down a 2000 dollar advance for his debut book ‘The Vulture’ as he didn’t like the publisher’s vibe. So what does the broke Gil do? Ever the principled man, he walks out of the publisher’s office feeling like they were trying to pay him off and more or less immediately chanced upon an old school friend and his father. The chance meeting turned into dinner and ultimately Gil was offered a much better deal all round which more than vindicated his decision to pull out of college. The father of the friend told a story of how he was helped out when he was a struggling young entrepreneur and was helped by his landlord on the condition that when he did get the chance, he’d pass it on. So he did.

It is a simple and almost clichéd equation – if one person helps three people, who in turn help three people, you can change the world. But on a more basic level, as the late great untamed proud poet said in an interview with Jamie Byng: “If someone comes to you and asks for help, and you can help them, you’re supposed to help them. Why wouldn’t you? You have been put in the position somehow to be able to help this person.”

Check out this amazing footage of Gil and Jamie:

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Over to you now: what do you think? Do you have any inspiring stories to share?

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