Gifts that are given from a space of gratitude have the power to unleash tremendous goodness into the world. This is the story of one small gift that demonstrates the awesome capacity for that goodness to ripple onwards.
When I got asked to make a short-film for Blazin’ Hope 2, I agreed only after others had committed to do a lot of the preliminary work so that I could finish the piece in 8 hours or less. Somewhere on day 2 when I realized that the original vision / story wasn’t working, I was frustrated because it was going to take a lot longer to finish that I had planned.
After the frustration, or perhaps because of it, I started digging more deeply into a blog that had more information about this organization. Every story I read touched me– I was so moved that I melted into the project, losing track of time and myself. It took many hours over two more days to finish the video on Itipini, but those last two days were filled with such gratitude to be in a position to do something small to aid the noble spirit of the work.
On the night of the concert, I started getting text messages from other Be The Cause volunteers. The audience was “frozen, mesmerized” and “deeply still” during the video while being “visibly moved”. I forbid friends to send me SMSes because they cost me 2o cents in and out, so I knew that these notes were sincere or people would not have wasted my dimes on them. Though I was already deeply rewarded during those last two days, the audience reaction and the SMSes were the first wave of many more rewards to head in my direction.
Turns out that the curator of a film festival was in the audience, and she was deeply moved by the video. She asked me if she could enter it into the My Hero Film Festival. I agreed and sent her several more films, all of which were received with the same excitement. I forgot about the whole affair until a few months later when I was invited to attend the festival, and then sent home with all the top prizes and cash!
Again I realized that I had already been amply rewarded, so I immediately donated the cash to another beautiful effort called the Art Miles Mural project. My interaction with them forged a deep friendship with their effort, and opened the door to an audience with the Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Ambassador Chowdhury (to whom I also gave a gift & smile card!). It also lead to super-fun talk and interactive session with a group of kids from an afternoon program, and a film screening and short talk at a children’s talent show put on by Arts4Unity 🙂
The feedback from that first festival was to enter more festivals, and when I decided to do that, I was flooded by generosity from many friends who pitched in to fund entry fees into many other festivals. These films have been seen, and won more awards at the International Family Film Festival, San Luis Obispo Film Festival, Garden State Film Festival, and Nashville Film Festival so far. I only attended the San Luis Obispo festival, and was again flooded with gifts and generosity throughout that experience. I have to write a proper blog post about the experience, but once again, I knew I had already been amply rewarded, and so I paid forward gifts during that festival– many of which have opened up other doors.
As beautiful as those film festivals were, I saw their limitations, which lead me to dream up the InSIDe Film Festival. After only a short presentation at USC’s Cinematic Arts, they loved the concept and gifted something like $20,000 in venues to make the event happen. Incredible! Of course, the InSIDe itself will be a gift-economy film festival, so that others can experience this magic 😉
Before all those festivals, Swap of Karmacy saw the video and wanted to hire me to make a video for one of their songs. It was pre-election and they wanted to make it for Obama. Of course, I had already been deeply rewarded for whatever little I had done, so it would not have been proper to be ‘hired’. I naturally offered to make the video in the gift-economy, and was deeply gratified to be able to do something to help Obama get elected. The piece made quite a little splash in the South Asian community, and I started getting emails from a few friends around the world who I had lost touch with over the years. Amazing that despite years and separation our subtle connection never disappeared and was re-ignited through a gift given somewhere else!
Perhaps because of the film festival wins and the Karmacy video, MTV Iggy got interested in my work. I’ll be introducing the world to my homie MC Yogi through a short piece that may get up to 110M views worldwide across several markets and platforms! The relationship means it may be possible to introduce more inspiring stories to a broader worldwide audience. What a way to spread the good!
Couple of weeks ago, I get an email from some folks on the east coast who are arranging a speaking tour for Jenny McConnachie. They ask if they can use my short video on Itipini during her tour. Of course they can! In fact, I am humbled and honored that they would even want to use the video. They’re a tad surprised by my enthusiasm, and lack of legalese-ish hurdles in getting permission, perhaps not understanding the spirit in which I operate. I explain the story and purpose of Blazin’ Hope, and add:
As a filmmaker, I only work for inspiring people, organizations, and causes as a way of amplifying the good in the world. The goal is to bring that goodness to as many people as possible 🙂 though I leave the marketing and outreach to the universe.
Turns out that it is the first time Jenny is speaking since her husband Chris McConnachie passed away in 2007. Though this film helped raise money for her work, she had never seen it until her first presentation a few days ago. Here’s the note I just got from the east coast:
Rahul – Jenny and I have been in NY, NJ and MA with presentations and sharing what is happening at Itipini. She saw your presentation for the first time and was in awe…she really, really liked it and is talking about taking and sharing it more….I wish you could have seen her watching the first time….awesome! thank you again….Carla
It gives me goosebumps to put the woman who inspired me in awe!
The gifts keep on growing in every direction, revealing an abundance that I never quite experienced until I started living in the gift-economy. Blazin’ Hope III is just around the corner– a chance to overflow again with gratitude and hope!
And to think, none of this would have been possible if I charged my “market rate” to make the video…