Amanda Palmer is half of the dark cabaret duo The Dresden Dolls. She is now a successful self help book author, too, owing to the publication of The Art of Asking. I discovered the book through a TED talk on the subject, can't recall which she did first. Anyway, that's not my point. My point is that gifting, in Palmer's particular case asking for and receiving gifts, is a fantastic forum for uncovering and possibly shifting our resistance to abundance.
Palmer is famous for taking a leading role in creating her own fanbase through various activities, from direct communications during and after concerts, frequently asking fans for housing and food, to seemingly intense internet activity, including emailing and the use of social media. She is famous for one of the biggest Kickstarter campaigns for (I think) recording production: somewhere around 1.2 million clams.
Apparently her Kickstarter success stimulated a kerfuffle in the collective, as Palmer (nothing if not transparent) revealed not only that she used it all to produce a recording and (it seems) sold said recording cheaply or for donation (one of Palmer's avant-garde policies), but Palmer claimed the CD itself was a loss leader, taking folks to a Patreon account where she sells... something else. Oh for shame, Amanda! (note: sarcasm...)
Patreon is a site that hosts artists managing their own businesses. That folks are upset about how she uses money that is gifted, albeit for a particular purpose, is a good case in the abundance point. Gifting is fraught with potential woe, and the woe is due to expectations, and expectations are created from the complex hash we all developed according to our family culture, our larger collective culture, our personal values which are very much based on our own security level and lack thereof, and more.
Negatively criticizing what other people do with their money is the crux of an impossible dilemma, the definition of 'dilemma' being its unsolvability. Dilemmas are the thing most people avoid in life, because they have been conditioned to believe in the concept of right and wrong, as in a right answer and a wrong answer to what a person should do with their crowdfunded cash. Add the factor of personal power (a million dollars and the ability to ask for and receive it is worldly power) and people care a lot more about what someone does with their clams, rightfully so in some sense. If I give Amanda 25 cents, nobody cares what she does with it, short of loading a gun with it and maiming someone, or choking to death on it. We pay attention to what others do with their power because there are instances where it IS our business, most notably, if folks are closely related or otherwise concertedly interacting with us. However, Amanda Palmer's Kickstarter doesn't fit that bill.
So, a good starter for investigation of our abundance; why do I believe I rightfully negatively judge someone who has a lot of material resources? Why is that my job? A few responses to the question I can easily think of are that such resources are indeed power, and we are vaguely, unconsciously, afraid of being in thrall to such power. We rightly fear power used to obstruct or otherwise oppose our own expectations, our desire to survive and thrive, and beneath our small-minded American individualistic personas we tend to feel we must weigh in on everybody's activity, feeling we are molding the world to our desires and making it safe for good people like us.
We also have social conditioning that judges negatively a self promoter like Amanda, perhaps in particular a self promoting woman, an artist at that. Also, we may believe that there are limited resources in the world, and so Amanda is somehow, in a vague and foggy way, taking resources that might have been shifted in my direction if she hadn't been so famous or whatever, because I am a deserving morally upright citizen, not a person who paints on their eyebrows and sometimes exposes their boobs. Similarly, I think it's my job to compare myself (a hard working responsible person who pulls more than my weight in life) with her, and I feel she did not really earn the $, in this case she did not PROVE TO ME that she truly earned the money. She seemingly didn't use it in the manner that I would approve of.
Of course this collective approval in regards to what activity ought to earn $ is one of the abundance conditioning dilemmas that Palmer addresses in her book, one that "artists" are always aware of. Material abundance is subject to social and personal approval and disapproval of all kinds, and "artists" are DOING WHAT THEY WANT TO DO and therefore are often only begrudgingly and very conditionally accorded the right to abundance in the minds of the populace. Did you go to school and study your art? Did you suffer to make your art? Do lots of other people like your art, did you win some prizes, have you tried unflaggingly to promote your art? Are you sexually discreet, are you pretty, are you classy? Do you donate to liberal causes? Do you toot your own horn? Or go nuts and cut off your ear? better than tooting the horn, for its entertainment factor if nothing else.
The Palmer donation-and-barter way of ordering commerce is very much based on a gift economy, as opposed to an exchange economy, which is what I'm going to call the one I live in that's mostly mediated by money. Actually Palmer's economic system is a blend; it allows for both, for she also does the normal thing. If you've taken an Anthropology 101 course, you've encountered gift economies, the classic nosy-white-people's presentation being that of the Trobriand islanders. Tribal cultures all have their rules about asking, about giving and receiving, of course, and on a tribal population level there's more consistency to the rules, as I understand it.
However, in a culture as diverse as America's, there is no wonder that we might get nervous about asking for any and all forms of abundance, including aid of all kinds, since we don't know how our asking will be received. Interestingly, Palmer's very personally oriented music combined with her networking has the effect of creating a sort of tribal culture. A follower of Palmer's would be a follower of her life philosophy, to some extent. And one of her philosophical points is that gifts are free, i.e. free of obligation, though she makes the point in the book over and over that she does not use and abuse her supporters. She does her darndest to keep their trust, while trusting them, as well.
A quote from Lewis Hyde's The Gift, and a good rule of true abundance. Trust opens us to the flow, and in a sense it is that basic flow we are trusting:
Palmer varies the artist's trust challenges with the collective with a goodly seasoning of personal angst, probably the most intimate bits centered around her relationship with husband Neil Gaiman, the famous writer. Asking and receiving is a somewhat casual affair when we don't live with someone, when we don't have a committed relationship with them, although as I said we also tend to get busy in our heads with our trust issues in regards to strangers we see as having power over us.
The ultimate point in the positive abundance game is to bring the nonjudgmental, expanded, connected way of being into the physical strata, whether or not we make seeming mistakes along the way. Maybe Palmer DID use the crowdfunded $ to pay off personal debts, maybe she got herself a new dress, maybe she bought her mother a Christmas gift. The Art of Asking explores the question; is that OK? And, as Amanda's exploration of the subject shows, bringing a nonjudgmental approach to abundance is a life's work, for life always presents us some new configuration, as long as we are ready, willing, and able to learn and grow. Working her way through abundance challenges, sometimes Palmer implements a trickster coping skill, as when she pulled an act in order to get a record company to drop a recording contract. Sometimes she philosophizes, discovering the core jewel behind a difficult transaction. Very often, when faced with this core human experience of gifting and exchange, she comes up with an entirely new idea as solution, something creative and in line with her intrinsic love of freedom. But always, she is learning more about loving self and therefore other, and that is the core of all human abundance.
Have a very abundant day!