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Bill Bergeman


10 Precious Things I Can Give With No Expectation of Anything in Return

Years ago, in a story-telling course I took in college, the instructor asked the class a question that resonated so strongly with me that I continue to ponder it to this day.

Is it possible to do anything that is completely, 100% altruistic?

The class was divided on the answer, as you might expect. My 21-year-old bleeding liberal heart at the time thought, "Of course!"

After a couple of decades more of life experience, my response is now far more nuanced.

I can't say I know a definitive answer, yet in my heart of hearts, I don't think it's possible. However, I like to believe humans, somehow, in some way, are capable of it.

I don't know if I am personally capable of it, but if I were to take a stab at it, I would start with something from this simple list.

    1. My time.

    To help someone when I have little to give.

    2. My attention.

    For someone who feels lonely and scared.

    3. Heartfelt encouragement.

    For someone who is passionately trying but keeps encountering hurdles.

    4. My Money.

    When the value of it can change someone's day - or life - for the better.

    5. Great ideas.

    When it can spark a change in someone's life.

    6. A truly kind, genuine smile.

    We don't see them often, but when we do - we know.

    7. A solution.

    For someone's seemingly intractable problem.

    8. Kudos/likes on social media.

    When someone is clearly proud of an accomplishment yet is receiving no attention for it.

    9. A listening ear.

    For someone who never feels heard.

    10. My full presence.

    When being here, now, and nowhere else, will change someone's life.

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