Monday, March 22, 2010

Gifts (Part II)

So as I was thinking about gifts, gift-giving, and an awareness of abundance last week, my husband made a comment one night about gifts we, as individuals, bring with us or cultivate during our lives.

It's a concept I had encountered many times before, but had never thought about in quite the way he put it. He said he was thinking about people who are born into money... specifically, the ones who seem to squander it or do nothing of meaning or purpose with it. The folks born with a silver spoon who never give anything of meaning back and therefore just move through life like bloated and entitled blemishes upon the body of humanity.

We loathe those people, generally. We see in them a selfishness and lack of compassion both startling and disheartening... and they tend to carry after them legacies of infamy, ill-repute, or at least deep sighs and shaking heads.

The point he made is that we are all born with gifts: things we do really well or seem to excel at in a way that sets us apart from those around us. Everyone has something like this. Maybe it's artistic, maybe it's organizational, or interpersonal, or physical... whatever. You've got some prowess and ability that is unique to you and undeniably special.

(Pressfield touches on this in The War of Art; he links it to God and the divine... but I think it's less important where it comes from and more important that you notice your strengths/blessings with honesty and gratitude.)

My husband (who has been navigating his own path of self-identity, career, and life-purpose) said he realized refusing to make use of one's gift, or find ways to share it with others in some fashion, was akin to being a myopic, avaricious rich kid who was blessed with unasked-for rewards and consumed them all without ever looking up to see who else might benefit from such wealth.

And when he told me this, I chewed on it for days... all weekend, in fact. I thought about seeing Ani DiFranco in concert and being blown away by her talent and hit with this indelible sense of "this woman is doing what she was put on this earth to do." And then I thought about the people I've met - teachers, counselors, artists, doctors, psychics, engineers, ministers - who called forth in me that same recognition... and awe... and envy.

It was not until very recently the envy started fading. An unflinching awareness of the ways in which I hold myself back has served to erase those displaced emotions. My joy remains my responsibility. My willingness to embrace the talents I possess - to see them as a compassionate response and fortunate opportunity - directly impacts my experience within the world and my level of happiness, peace, and personal fulfillment.

I have been better, lately, about sharing my gifts and utilizing my strengths in a mindful and compassionate manner. And - bit by bit - I am creating cracks in the self-imposed barriers I see between myself and the realization of various inner callings. I notice a greater sense of connection to those around me, and I feel more comfortable in my day-to-day being.

I think Buddha probably summed it up best: "Meditate. Live purely. Be quiet. Do your work with mastery. Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine."

May you discover and celebrate your singular talents. May your gifts bring you - and those around you - closer to something wonderful.

*Special thanks to Melinda Evans for taking this photo - from the booth! - during Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. You rock, girl!


  1. Years ago, I was told by a struggling artist friend when singing the backup tracks for his album, "you should get out of this business, because you're selfish." I didn't understand. I thought he was jealous of my talent. But this just hits the mark. I never wanted to share my singing with other people. It was for me, it belonged to me, it soothes me, it takes me places emotionally. The idea that other people would enjoy it was irrelevant, irritating and worrisome at the idea I was being a "show-off". Hence I quit with little struggle trying to make a life doing it. But I miss it. Maybe now as an older, more enlightened person, I hope that I miss it because of the lost potential to share that joy with other people.

  2. Your words really resonated for me because I often notice opportunities to address ego in the wake of my work as a performer. It's an inherently selfish thing to do, in many ways... and yet, it has the potential to be an amazing act of connection and generosity. But what a tricky path to walk!

    I hope you find opportunity to sing again. It sounds like it had great importance in your life; and as you said... maybe it would be a new experience now?