Offer. Receive. Support.
I’ve just returned from my Tour de 60, a five-week birthday road trip. I crisscrossed the country, camping along the way. But most nights I stayed with friends. Twice—at a campground and on a beach—I met people who shared their libations and invited me to stay in their homes. And I did.
Every day—every night—I felt safe and grateful. For the roof over my head and the food in my belly.
This reminded me of a warmup game we play in improv class.
We stand in a circle, and use just three words. Offer. Receive. Support. It starts off a little bit loud. And then it gets rowdy.
Picture this: I call OFFER, while pointing with both arms at someone else. That player throws his arms in the air and calls RECEIVE. Then, to complete the round, he extends his arms across the circle toward someone new, and calls SUPPORT.
Around and around we go. The less we think, the louder and more physical we get. We use our full bodies to gesture. We bend and we flail. And then we replace the words with screams. EEE! EEE! AHHH!
If someone walked by the studio, they would think a murder was going on.
Trust me. It’s fun.
But—of course—there’s more to the game than fun. As we burn the cycle into our brains, we’re building trust. We believe we are supported.
The other night, one of my improv pals, Tom, organized a drinks thing for a few of our players. When the bill came, he offered to pay.
For a moment, it was hard for me to receive Tom’s offer, but then I remembered our game. The next move would be mine. It so happens that Tom is moving away. He’ll want to come back to visit his daughter, and he’ll need a place to stay.
I offered my spare room. He received. He felt supported.
Moreover, supporting my pal felt good.
Yet, I know—we all know—that it’s right to be discerning when it comes to extending and accepting generosity and trust.
Offer. There’s no buzz kill worse than a scorekeeper. Yeah, there is: the guy (or gal) who offers nothing. Remember this: there’s nothing selfish about noticing the rhythm of your offers, and what comes back in your direction. If something feels out of whack, it probably is.
Receive. If you are generous, you probably have generous friends. Let them treat you well. You deserve it. You’ll have many, many chances to treat them in kind. And sometimes, flip side is helpful too. If you really need something, it’s OK to ask.
Support. This is all of it: the baby, the bathwater, and the tub. We all desire—and deserve—to feel supported. When this need is met, the cycle effortlessly continues. When you have someone’s back, let them know. You will bring them joy.
So now, my friends, it’s my turn to offer with a capital O.
My fridge is full. My heart is open.
And I owe the universe a solid.
Please. Help me pay her back!