On Giving with Non-Attachment


Hi Brooke,

I rent an apartment these days as a getaway for a week, and the owner, who is an artist, gave me two prints of his paintings as a welcome gift. When he did, I rolled them open and kept praising his talent and generosity.

Sitting in the apartment, surrounded by his other paintings, I wanted to thank him for his generosity during my stay and I wrote three poems for three of his paintings.
When I wrote them I felt such goodness and love within me and I also felt very satisfied with how they turned out. It made me proud of myself.

Yesterday he stopped by and I gave him the poems. I rolled them like scrolls and he seemed to be happy, but took them without opening and just thanked me.
I found myself later that day, spending too much time wondering if he read them, had he liked them, why isn’t he calling to say something.

I understand intellectually the concept of non-attachment, but I think when we buy/make/give someone something, and perhaps especially if we created it, on a subtle level, while we wanted firstly to make them happy, we also crave a momentary praise that will sound like: ‘Wow, thank you so much, this has moved me, changed me, and I feel the love you put into it.’
It’s what testimonials are for, thank you cards, and the like.

So by the morning I calmed myself and said I should just let it go and expect no praise or thank you back and feel that lacking on purpose. As I did so, I did not reach out for food, alcohol, or cat videos to soothe me. Instead, I held Pema Chodron book and read till I fell asleep.

Still, even by trying to change my thoughts about it (‘maybe he was very busy and just didn’t get to read it, maybe he is overwhelmed with gratitude’) it feels like a short story without an ending.
Can you enlighten me as to how can I look at it differently?