People who need people

liseI’ve done sewing/mending for 3 different timebankers thus far.  Each of them came with projects that had been hanging around for a looooong time (not unlike the ones up in my studio…).  Mostly they were things that had been well-used, well-loved and had begun to develop “issues”.  Their owners were torn as to whether to just retire the old thing or maybe see if they could get a couple more miles out of it.

There are several great things about these sorts of transactions.  One is that there’s NO RUSH.  Unlike a commercial seamstress where you take things that you want done yesterday, Time Bank has a certain graciousness built into it.  You are dealing with friends (though many are brand new friends), and there is somehow an enhanced sense of the golden rule.  You treat fellow “bankers” as people who are doing you favors.  And in return you get a lot of gratitude!  Along with your time credit!

Another great thing is something Brigitte pointed out to me when she brought me her sweaters for mending. “I could probably do all these things myself,” she quipped,  “but there’s less motivation.  If I did it, no one else would appreciate that it got done!”  I love that.  We are giving each other little, otherwise inconsequential, opportunities for shared joy.  Truth is that I too, have a pile of mending/projects that have been waiting for years.  But, probably for the reasons that Brigitte articulated, doing the TimeBank work gets a higher priority.

And yet another gift is the way in which we learn about each other’s talents.  I have known Barb for dog’s years (we are sisters from different mothers) (and fathers), but today, as I took her yoga class, I heard a voice come out of her that I’d never heard before.  I KNEW she was a great yoga teacher, because I’d heard from others.  But today I got to experience a facet of her that had been hitherto unrevealed to me.

I also love that TimeBank gives us an opportunity to share the little things we enjoy doing.  Who we are besides our day jobs. “Oh, I didn’t know you could do that!”  I would never venture to make a living worm farming, or mending, or cooking or organizing people’s sheds, but these are things I enjoy doing a little bit here and a little bit there.

I think it was Brigitte who acknowledged that sometimes it just comes down to the virtue of “getting it on the calendar”.  Jobs that you keep putting off.  Things that you are capable of doing, but… not this week. The act of making an arrangement with another “banker” to help you out, somehow incarnates the deed, gives it form, gives it a presence in the here and now. And it gets done!  Yay!!

 What is it about asking for help that makes things somehow more manageable? I think it might be about the practice of quietly forming connections with others. There’s something that feels deeply civilized about it. It feels like a tiny antidote to all the dehumanizing aspects of our fast-paced, techno-society.  I think maybe this is the deeper gift of Time Banking, for me.                                                   — Lise Stoessel

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