Two months around Japan film screening and workshop tour has ended.
In every screening and lecture I went, I have invited participants to offer me a message of love, such as words of encouragement and support, constructive criticism, the pledge to join me in spreading the vision etc. If people felt that they would like to spread the vision and have others hear my stories and talk, I asked them to support me in the form they can whether it is material or money for me to keep moving forward on my screening tour.
The results were astounding. The warm messages/letters I got was so encouraging and they made me feel that I was able to contribute in someway. I also received some financial support every time. This entire process was such an incredible journey for me.
Receiving monetary support was always quite an interesting experience for me. What I realized was that there was always feeling of tremendous gratitude but also awkwardness around counting the amount of money that I received. It made me feel so grateful to see the gift that was flowing into me but counting the money also made me feel a bit like putting a price on what was priceless to me. I admit that whenever I counted the money, my brain automatically went to a default mode which thinks “the number of total participants were X, so people paid average X yen per person,” then my brain evaluate my performance accordingly.
I felt a bit embarrassed that my brain does such calculation, as I knew how much each people paid was not the point. It was the message and the energy behind the monetary support that I received that mattered greatly for me.
In mid April, I participated the workshop that my friend ran with three other collaborators. The workshop was run in the form of gift. At the end of the workshop, workshop leaders explained why they are doing what they are doing and as participants were asked to donate whatever they felt appropriate. It was quite challenging for me to be in that situation. I knew that they are not pressuring me to pay anything and they repeatedly said that they didn’t want us to pay out of obligations and wanted us to pay out of our heart. However, whenever I heard the word “donation” it made me feel like I should pay and my own experience gave me a great suffering. I mirrored my experience with those that the participants in my screenings and workshops may have experienced. I was really scared that some of them might have felt the kind of pressure that I felt, because it was the least thing I wanted them to feel. Something about the word donation was bothering me. I felt like donation is something you give when you have enough or something you do out of some feelings of responsibility or obligation.
Also, it was quite challenging to decide how much to contribute. What these workshop leaders offered me was more than just the hours they spend during the 5 days workshop. It felt that no matter how much I give, it would not be enough.
At the end, what made most sense to me was to leave all the money that I was given as a monetary support through my screenings and workshops till that day. I felt it was the best way to let the energy flow. I didn’t know exactly how much money I left but I actually didn’t want to know the exact amount. In a way, leaving all the money was most empowering for me but also the least challenging way for me. I felt that what they have offered was priceless and I would have a hard time putting a price on it.
After that experience, I stopped using the word donation when I asked for the support from people. I needed to figure out the way to describe what I meant with the word that I felt comfortable. Also, I stopped counting the monetary support I received. I just put everything I received in one large envelope and decided to leave them till my tour in Japan ends. I felt a lot better that way. In this way, I was able to focus a lot more on the energy of support that I was receiving through their words and smiles and the experience remind priceless or price-free allowing its value to be evaluated only internally. When people asked if I am able to pay for all the expenses, my answer was “I don’t know yet. I will see.” But in a mean time, as the envelop gets thicker and heavier with all the contribution and notes with messages, my faith grow that things will work out fine and if my work is needed in this word, I will somehow get to continue what I do.
At the end of the two months tour, I took all the monetary support that I received to the bank and deposited them. In the bank statement, it only added a single line but it felt so much more to me. I admit that seeing the sum of the contribution was incredible and I felt the collective power of the generosity of people. I still don’t know if I was able to cover all the expenses quite yet but I had a gut feeling that told me it would be just enough. Besides, I know for sure that all the people who hosted the screening would have been able to invite me to speak at their event if I had an up front fee to cover the accommodation, transportation and my time. So, I know already the number of encounter I got to have because I chose offer my time and resource as a gift, I received incredible amount of new connections and wonderful encounters. I spread out all the notes with messages that I received during the last two months. It was like a physical proof of new social capital that I have gained. Now I have so many new friends all over Japan who provided me with accommodation, invited me to a wonderful meals and gave me a tour of their community. What a gift.
Before I began this gift ecology experiment, I felt a lot of anxiety around money, security and the feeling of contribution I am making to the world. Now I feel a lot more confidence in my work. Of course I still wonder if I get to make my living by doing what I do in a way I did this time, but I have a greater faith that if I act out of love and hope instead of fear, things will work out if what I offer is needed in the world and that the generosity of people is beyond ones imagination.
For what I get to experience and feel, I am so thankful to all the people who supported me in this experiment in so many different ways.