Editor's Note: the letter on the next page
was sent out to a dozen friends along with a check made
out to them for $5,000-$10,000. Few of the recipients knew
ahead of time that the letter and the check were coming.
Kim says that overall her friends were astonished
and delighted. Many bought things to help their daily lives--for
instance, a new refrigerator instead of living with an old
one for another 10 years. "Whenever I open the fridge
I think of you," her friend tells her. Others traveled
abroad, or lived on the money so their lives could be easier
and slower for a short time.
To Kim's chagrin, she felt privately critical
of some people's choices--a challenging lesson in letting
go!--but no relationships were strained. Financial differences
between her and her friends seem to be no more or less of
an issue than they were before, and Kim has no regrets about
December 15, 1994
Sorry for the copied letter but I know you'll understand.
I've had a brilliant idea and wanted to get the news out.
I learned last year that I was scheduled
to receive another large inheritance on my 35th birthday,
which is today. I have felt very strongly that most of it
needs to get put back into the community. I started brainstorming
about how the money could have the most impact when suddenly
I though, why can't I share some of this with my own personal
community as well, the people I love, the folks who are
always there when I need them? Friends share what they have
with each other (food, time, childcare, love, etc). I happen
to have an abundance of dollars.
I went back and forth in my head. Is it
appropriate? Is it too complicated emotionally for our friendship
to handle? My friends are adamant about not taking money
from me--will they get mad? Finally, I decided just to do
it, and to clarify myself in an 84-page document to all
the recipients (which I have cleverly edited down to the
letter you are now holding).
So here's the most important thing: IF YOU
DON'T WANT THIS MONEY, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, DON'T TAKE IT!
There will be no hard feelings, I'll just put it somewhere
else. The other most important thing is that there are no
conditions or expectations connected to this money--it's
a gift freely given--and I hope you can receive it in the
spirit with which it's intended. You can use it absolutely
in any way you choose--spend it, give it away, invest it,
whatever. (Rest assured that my lifestyle will not be affected
by your check. Little Ben will not go without groceries.)
My hope is that if this causes any kind
of discomfort, you'll come to me and work it through. I
think my biggest worry is that you'll feel indebted to me
somehow. Your friendship is one of my most valued relationships
and I want nothing to jeopardize it.
It's a reality in my life that I have bunches
of money arbitrarily dropped in my lap, and that I often
feel isolated in the constant deliberations that's required
to deal with the money emotionally and ethically. I have
the hope that getting a big check in the mail might create
more understanding between us about my own situation.
I don't have any models for doing this so
I need to trust that you'll talk to me and we'll figure
it out together. So let's talk, in whatever way you'd like…
Love, love, love,
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