Spontaneous gift giving is something I do a lot while traveling. Besides poetry, I’ll also gift books, clothes, and jewelry to new friends I’ve made.
I also receive a variety of gifts. I’ve referenced intangible gifts in the past, the ineffable something people have offered me after we’ve created a poem. I don’t really talk about the physical gifts I’ve been given–with the exception of other poems created for me.
I’ve been gifted jewelry twice while doing Typewriter Poetry. My personal favorite is the wooden set of tree earrings Melisa gave me after I typed her a poem at the Gilroy Garlic Festival (seen above).
Another favorite is the Kindness Bracelet I received while traveling through the Bay Area:
The purple/white bracelet on my wrist (as well as the red on Tyler’s) are Christie’s Kindness Bracelets. She makes these bracelets in different colors and waits for opportunities to give them to others as an act of kindness. “My only requirement,” I remember her telling us, “is that you pass the kindness on.” That was no problem; we were already consistently doing it. Throughout the rest of our journey, we had ample opportunities to pay it forward to countless others we met along the way.
I ended up giving the largest green bracelet you see in the picture to a beautiful little girl we met at restaurant in Redding, California. At first, she was hesitant to accept the gift. She thought it was too much. Once her father acknowledged she could take it, you could see the excitement and gratitude playing out on her face.
She told me she loved studying gems. We shared a mutual love of minerals. Tyler and I were on our way to Mount Shasta (en route to Ashland, Oregon), and she offered tons of advice on which crystal shops to check out. She talked and turned the bracelet over absent-mindedly in her hands, touching it with extreme (though unconscious) care. I knew I had given my favorite bracelet away to the right person. Even better, right before we left the restaurant, she told me she planned to give the bracelet to her mom as a Christmas present–but only after her new sibling was born.
I miss the jewelry I’ve given away, but that small yearning makes the giving all the more valuable. Even still, the items that were given to me by kind strangers are especially treasured. These are pieces of earth crafted by human hands. These are items which mean something to someone, and meant something to me. Their sacred sentimentality will always remain threaded throughout my life.
It doesn’t surprise me that “jewel” has ties to words like jest, joy, joke, rejoice, game, play. I view jewelry as manifestations of symbols, dreams, and abstractions. What makes it even more poetic is the fact that these sources come directly to us from earth. I am often amazed by the little reminders in life that show us we are part of the world, quite literally! Our bodies constantly maintain intimate relations with the earth, whether we’re aware of it or not. Jewelry and other meaningful objects (such as the twisted buddha) are physical inspirations we are able to carry upon our bodies. What a notion! That these material “things” provide a two-way street: one to the world we have come to call home, and the other inward, toward memory and imagination, a space that remains no matter where we choose to rest our heads.
And of course, the poem inspired by Christie and her beautiful family:
Formal street beats
during the summer in Berkeley,
the talk a new sound.
Vacation is our vocation,
serious fun where one can find it.
Falling in love with colors
of the city, the same ones
we find in ourselves
and each other.
august 3rd 2013
* Thanks to Christie for sending in her lovely photographs from Berkeley (Team Olsen Photography). The picture of my favorite earrings were taken by yours truly.