David and I have just returned from Sitka, Alaska where we participated in the Island Institute’s Summer Symposium. This year’s theme was Shaping an Enduring Human Culture, with Gary Snyder, Gary Holthaus, and Robin Kimmerer as faculty. Wonderful teachers! They provoked us to think deeply, differently, and about many angles of the theme, one of which was reciprocity — how we give and take in the world. It seems we know quite a bit about taking, and not so much about giving back to other people, animals, the world.
Reciprocity. From the Latin word reciprocus, meaning ‘moving backward and forward.’ Robin, Gary, and Gary provided multiple lenses through which to view reciprocity, including the notions that we need first to know the world, to look closely, with an open mind and heart, to be able to call things by their proper names.
Naturally, I thought of Gia-fu and what he dreamed of for Stillpoint, about families living simply, honestly, in nature, giving, and receiving. Gia-fu knew that this isn’t some easy, idyllic idea. It takes courage to look at oneself honestly, to be honest with others. It takes some grit to live that way, day after day, giving and receiving. And it takes the will to stay with it.