Wake-Up Call to Spontaneous Giving

By Rick Fullerton | Bio


I’m in love (or at least infatuated) with an amazing young woman.
She is in her 20s, about the same age as my youngest daughter.  I just
met her last Friday, and we are having lunch this week. Let me explain
how this unfolded and why it is so exciting!

For several years,
I have been an adjunct professor in the faculty of management at a
local university, where I teach graduate courses in human resources and
management skills. This work is very rewarding, yet I also seek
involvement with people involved in practical field work, where direct
action produces tangible results.

One such opening occurred on
Friday when my wife, Phyllis, and I attended a thesis presentation by
Aliza Weller. While this was the much anticipated culmination of her
course work and field research, for us it was a totally spur of the
moment decision. In fact, we had not met Aliza or known of her work
until seeing her an hour earlier during an open seminar. And yet both
Phyllis and I knew this was what we wanted to do.

What touched
me about Aliza and the experience is not easy to explain.  Certainly,
she was young, self-assured, full of life and engaging, like so many
you would meet in graduate school. Maybe it was the guitar on her back
that piqued my interest, or the way she introduced her mother, who then
generously shared cookies with those of us around the table.  Or
perhaps it was that when Aliza came into the room to do her thesis
presentation, she hugged each of her friends in appreciation for who
they were and for their support in this important step in her
education.  Yes, all of these contributed to my attraction to Aliza,
but there was more.

Yet what really got my attention was the
content of Aliza’s presentation, with her professional quality slides
and confident, open delivery. Her thesis explored the work of
Superheroes* (people who travel around donating time for environmental
projects and community learning), specifically exploring three themes:
transformational learning, spontaneous giving and deep ecology. These
were words and ideas I had seldom seen in traditional management
courses, yet ones that have been an important part of my professional
life. Here was this inspiring woman, captivating the room with her
research, her ideas, and her songs.  In the spirit of Marshall McLuhan,
Aliza showed up as the consummate medium, both transformed and
transforming: she was ‘being the change’ she wanted to see in the world.

The
spontaneous gift I received on Friday was a wake-up call.  I was
reconnected with the ‘Aliza’ in me: the person who wants to connect
with others physically, emotionally and mentally; the person who is
playful, active and energetic; the person who is willing to take risks
and be different; and the person who is committed to the world—not just
as an ideal but in specific, practical ways that make a difference. I
look forward to more when Phyllis and I have another opportunity to
talk with Aliza over lunch.

Just as Aliza offered me a surprise
gift, each of us can be a source of gifts to others—every day. When we
show up as alive, authentic, open and engaged, each of us can spark a
similar expression in others. Indeed, in this Season of Giving, the
best gift we give others may well be sharing who we truly are and what
we stand for in the world.


*
Superheroes are groups of young people who form loose alliances to make
the world a better place. They get together and bike to different
communities, spontaneously doing things that are environmentally
responsible, freely giving of their time and energy. They don’t ask for
donations or collect money, and they share their commitment with
children in the communities they visit.

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