Sharing happens when we break down our walls. And what is fantastic is that when we truly learn how to share ourselves, our stuff and our lives, we blossom.
Sharing meals supports our physical and emotional wellbeing. Sitting together for dinner is not just about the food but also the conversation and connections we are building. Anthony Bourdain believed that “You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together.”
Imagine we have a garden with a bounty of fruit and vegetables. We love the feeling of growing our own food and knowing the source of the soil. We are so excited to see the seeds grow and become a healthy source of food for us. Maybe some tomatoes, lettuce or beans from our own garden are on the menu today?
But when we plant a huge garden, can we consume all of the abundant treasures? Are we ready to share our bounty?
And of course, there may be deer, bears and other animals who don’t know that it’s our garden. Sharing comes naturally to them as they see the trees, bushes and grass as their playgrounds and food sources. Unlike us, they simply take what they need, while we put up fences to protect our food.
There are also insects that may be invisible to us who share and create havoc in the garden. And the bees, who are needed to keep our ecosystem and lives thriving, also consume the bounty.
There is a holistic system that is at play that supports and nurtures each other. It’s a basic natural law of existence.
So if sharing is natural, why do we suck at it? Perhaps one reason is that we have built so many structures that have made it unnatural. But is it really just material stuff that we share? What about moments? And experiences?
Maybe looking at the root and evolution of how we’ve defined it will shed some light?
Did You Know This About Sharing?
Apparently, “The earliest use of the word– the Old English “scearu”—referred to the groin, where the trunk of the body divides into two legs. In the sixteenth century, sharing meant cutting into parts, or cutting off.
This sense of division is central to the early meaning, and also to our naive understanding of the concept: Sharing is when you let others have some of what’s yours. When sharing is about division and distribution, it raises questions about distributive justice. What, we frequently ask, is a fair share?”
During the 19th century we began to share our problems. By sharing our problems, we divided the burden. In 1922, the Oxford Group, a Christian evangelical group, would gather in someone’s parlor room and confess their sins to one another. They called this “sharing.” Two members of the Oxford Group established Alcoholics Anonymous.
Sharing has also been linked to the digital world when it came to our disks and files. And social media in 2005 began associating sharing with a new economy of caring. For years, the sharing economy was an answer to consumption—an altruistic economy of caring. The promise was maximizing the utility of possessions, and reducing environmental impact, for the collective benefit of all. Why own your own car or equipment that sits idle when you can share it and earn money?
As an expert on the sharing economy, April Rinne said “sharing would recreate the social fabric of tight-knit communities. Engaging in collaborative consumption—and getting used to it—lowers the trust barrier over time,” she wrote. But the new trust never materialized. And in reality, these so-called innovative platforms only benefited those at the top of the food chain.
So maybe it’s time we invent a new practice that encompasses our ability to co-create together? Perhaps it’s time to stop focusing on dividing our problems by truly understanding there is a different way of living available to us? When we are flowing in a similar direction, communication channels are open and we’re curious, and sharing takes on an exciting trek for the adventurer in us.
We know how to flex this sharing muscle during a crisis, so maybe it’s time to write new stories in our day-to-day lives when it comes to experiencing life together in community? Isn’t that how we truly want to share?