7 years ago, I walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostella, starting in a small village in the French Pyrenees and ending near the Spanish Atlantic Ocean 6 weeks and more than 800kms later. It was the greatest (outer and inner) journey of my life, and to this day leaves a deep imprint on my soul.
But one day in particular stands out above the rest, an experience I will never forget. Like all previous days, I woke up early with the intention to walk the usual 30kms. On this day however, after only 7kms I came across a small village with a cute little church with inviting energy. As I approached the door I was greeted by the shining eyes of the volunteer host who was stewarding that “Donativo” (a donation based church hostel).
He welcomed me inside and gave me a short tour. When we reached the large dining hall, the first thing I noticed was the donation box, a small and humble wooden container which was wide open and filled with cash. What touched me the most was not the openness of the box and the trust of the volunteer, but the beautiful note written on it –
“Give What You Can, Take What You Need”
This message deeply touched me and I knew I was in the right place, so I dropped my backpack and settled in. Not long after, I was in the kitchen joyously making dinner with about 15 other pilgrims, making new friends and soaking in the beautiful energy of that loving place. I learned that all the food we were preparing that evening was paid by the pilgrims who passed through the previous night. That when I too continued my journey, the next group of pilgrims would be eating from my donation. That some nights they have a huge feast and some nights a very modest one. Everything depends on the generosity of those who walk before us. Powerful!
While some meals were meager, what was never in short supply in that little haven was love, caring, support, devotion and someone to share food and a good story with. I also learned on that day that there is a lot of abundance in living simply, walking slowly and giving what you can.
This experience is coming up for me a lot lately, as I organize these gatherings that many judge as being too expensive, too inaccessible, only for the rich etc. I hear all these complaints and each of them leaves a bruise in my little ego. I never wanted to create something expensive and exclusive. Like all artists, I wanted to create something unique and pure, something extraordinary to be enjoyed by all, regardless of financial situation.
Not many people know the incredibly high costs of creating something like Sound & Silence. I have not spoken about it much, as I’m always advised to avoid this topic of money. But I don’t agree. I believe in transparency. I believe in honesty, openness and authenticity above all else, and I don’t feel that financial matters should be hidden in the dark and whispered about in secrecy.
The truth is, I also feel Sound & Silence is too expensive. I have not yet figured out a way to make it cheaper. I have not figured out how to offer a high-quality program with exceptional artistry, on a Greek island paradise and with a limited number of tickets (300) to keep it small and intimate.
We are not like other festivals with huge sponsors and deep pockets selling thousands upon thousands of tickets for an event near a big city with millions of potential guests. Unfortunately, for us to offer such high quality (we are not willing to lower it) in such a small and beautiful space (we will never be big or near a city) and to be sustainable we have to have higher ticket costs. Either that, or we need to find donors, benefactors and patrons who do have money and resources and want to support our mission and vision.
But maybe there is another way. I would love for all tickets of Sound & Silence to be donation based. I believe we can live in a world and operate in a way where “Give What You Can and Take What You Need” is our new sacred economy.
In order for this to work, however, in order for anything to work, we need to find balance. We need to be sustainable.
Yesterday a friend contacted me after reading a recent post I wrote similar to this topic. Without being asked, she opened her heart and her wallet to support this vision that she deeply resonates with. Not only did this move me to tears but it created a spark in me.
Yes, there is another way.
I know there are people out there, people with more abundance than most, people looking for a reason to give, searching for an honorable and pure project to support with money they are not using. If you are one of them, please contact me, I ask for your support to help me build this tribe into the transformative force I know it will be. That it already is.
And please know that I am not an ambitious man. I am no business man. I am not interested in fame or fortune and I do not covet material things. I am a man driven by Art and Beauty and with a mission to connect extraordinary souls who share a loving heart resonance. I don’t want your money, I ask for your love, essence, purity, passion, purpose and generosity. I have learned that I can build beautiful things, that I can manifest my dreams. But I also know that I can’t do any of this alone. And while I do not feel comfortable asking for it, I need your help.
This year we had almost 200 volunteer requests, 200 people who wished to offer their skills, talents and hearts to this vision. 200 people who could not afford the price of admission…. Unfortunately, we can only welcome 25 volunteers. We offered huge discounts to the rest, and a handful will come, but for more than 150 people it was still too much.
It is too late for most of them now, but there is still time for some. Is there anyone out there who is resonating with this message and wanting to sponsor some of these rejected volunteers? Anyone ready to “Give What You Can” so that 1, 5 or 25 of these selfless souls can make the trip to Corfu and experience the wonderment of Sound & Silence with us?
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter, thank you for taking the time to breathe all this in. Thank you for waiting in the wings and providing a lift for those of us who want to fly higher. Thank you for being the Dreamcatcher for a thousand splendid suns who do not yet know the power and radiance of their light. Thank you for Being.
May you be blessed where you are, and in Love may we all Trust.
Alexander is the founder and creative director of S&S Gatherings, and he loves to write! Here is a collection of some of his writings, musings and sharings. Feel free to leave a comment, we would love to hear from you!