My New Favorite Word: Guanxi
Guanxi is my new favorite word. I may have it tattoo-ed on my body somewhere, that’s how much I love it. It pretty much embodies what I see as my work in the world and I’m very happy to know it exists. But my guess is that for most people in the US (and most western countries), the interconnectedness that it implies would seem archaic at best, and downright undesirable at worst. “We need to be independent!” we are told from very early in our lives. The balancing of “debts” (i.e. the needing of each other, the relational history of personal stories) is something to opt out of. I no longer believe that, and timebanking has belped me move into that space of trust and the balance it guanxi implies. To my mind, it is better this way. I sit in this space more comfortably.
I got a very sweet message on Sunday on my cell phone. Hearing messages like this keep me oriented in the world, and I want to share the story of it with you. I was in Massachusetts all weekend and not really checking my phone. I opened my messages to hear this from a timebanker. “Hi Marie, I’m just calling to tell you how much I love timebanking. Earlier today I got X done, and it was really great. This afternoon I’m getting Y and on Wednesday, I’m getting Z. This is a love note about timebanking. Have a great day!” Let’s just say, it made my afternoon. If you have timebanking love notes that you’d like to write out and send me, I would love to be able to put them in the newsletter for others to read and be inspired by.
Quite a few people in the timebank have told me how timebanking has transformed their lives, especially their relationships to others in Media. They’ve met new friends and developed new relationships through this network and now they know where to turn for specific issues and who to turn to who might be able help them with tasks, big and small. But some people join and never engage. I know that we, as an organization, must count support and engagement in a very broad way. Some people join and just want to financially support Timebank Media and Transition Town Media but not really participate directly. That is engagement, and very much needed. We rely on these memberships to sustain the work that we do in the world as an all volunteer organization, and every dime counts — that’s for sure. But I would offer that those people who engage in asking and then doing for their community are going to get the most out of it, by far. And that when used as a tool to get your needs met, it can be life-transformative. This is not an exaggeration. But only you can choose whether this is the time in your life for such engagement. I would argue, though, that anyone…at any point in their life…can find at least some assistance and friendship through this network. You need only reach out and ask (and give.)
A good start to engaging is this: Take a moment and go to this link to fill in your Yellow Pages listing. If you have any trouble at all getting into your account, please don’t hesitate to write to me: firstname.lastname@example.org. While you are in your account perhaps fill out an offer and/or request as well.
The January Timebank Media Volunteer Meeting will take place tomorrow night, January 31st, in the Parlor Room at the Community Center from 6 pm – 7 pm (directly before the Transition Book Club gathering, which of course you are invited to attend. See side column for more details) Please come if you are interested in helping manage the timebank’s networking and internal affairs. Many hands make light work, and there’s lots of work to be done. You will not be asked to do anything unless you are passionate about it, so please feel free to join us and test the waters.
In gratitude for each of you,
Your task is not to seek for LOVE, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. — Rumi
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