Thought for the Day

Stormerne Hunt-Anschütz
31st July 2003

It’s the last day of the month, and that means it’s Pay Day for some people... hooray! A couple of days ago, a young woman friend of mine mentioned this to me. And she laughed and said: it was the one day of the month when she had any money in her bank. Tomorrow it would be all gone!

When we work hard, we expect to be paid fairly for what we do. That’s the normal way of going about things.

And when we want something, we buy it. We don’t expect something for nothing. We’re prepared to give something in return. And that’s the normal and acceptable way of doing things too.

When we become friends with people, they may do a favour for us, and we do them a favour in return. That’s how networking works. Once again, it’s the normal adult way of conducting a relationship.

And it’s not just a modern thing. It’s been recommended as good behaviour for centuries. In an ancient poem called “The Words of the High One”, Odin says:

Be your friend’s true friend.
Return gift for gift.
Repay laughter with laughter again.
This idea of “a Gift for a Gift” was so strong with the Anglo-Saxon peoples who used to live around here, that they might even decline a large gift because they’d feel they’d have to return it in kind.

On the other hand, no one likes someone who constantly complains about what’s expected of them. And no one likes a person who takes things for granted. And many people feel uncomfortable with a person who just gives, without ever asking for anything in return.

People do like someone who takes part in both sides of a friendship – someone that you can give to, and someone that will give back in return. And not only is that an adult way of going about things, it makes us both feel good too! That’s what friendships are about.

This doesn’t just work for people. If you’re lucky enough to number a god amongst your friends, next time you ask them for something, ask them what they’d like in return. And listen carefully to the answer. You might be surprised at what you find out!

Back to Thought for the Day index