Once upon a time the Tornado was in first grade and was assigned the teacher everyone warned us (and her) away from.
You want anyone but Mr. X!! He’s really tough on kids and parents.
I was apprehensive but went into the whole experience with an open mind.
To my surprise and delight she loved her new teacher. He led the class (and the parents) with a firm but loving hand.
He was a perfect fit for the style of discipline we use at home.
One morning before school, as an expression of love for her teacher, the Tornado made him a coffee cup:
I vaguely recall asking her later if he liked it & her saying he did.
Months later, however, she came home from school over-joyed.
Mr. X had coffee today in class and he used the cup I made for him!!
Her delight led to a conversation (how good it makes us feel when we give people gifts and they use them!) and then slid, unplanned, into another discussion (how we are all given “gifts” and talents and our “job” is to discover & use them.).
Since that experience years ago “using our gifts” –literal and metaphorical–has become a part of our family-language.
- We’ve talked about discovering what we do easily and naturally and how that’s not necessarily what others do easily and naturally.
- We’ve chatted about how using these ‘gifts’ & sharing them with the world is what makes our human community a better place.
- We’ve discussed how someone elses gifts aren’t better than ours—they’re just different.
A few days ago I brought the Tornado to her first day of tennis camp.
As we walked through the gate to the courts, we saw a woman painting a mural.
And, because my apple didn’t fall from her Mama’s tree, the Tornado’s jaw dropped and she announced to the woman:
That’s amazing. I love that. It’s beautiful.
And, because the MuralistApple didn’t come from my MamaTree, she said thank you and began to biscuit.
She explained: “This is just what I do. I’m not good at other things.”
She asked: What are you good at? (writing) I’m terrible at that. I wish I could do that.
She brushed off our compliments and didn’t seem to see how we admired what came easily to her and how, since we have no talents in that arena, we both admired and were impressed by her work.
Later that day I saw a tweet from Karen Anderson which captured—better than my ramblings above–our experience with the muralist:
Valuable to others.
I loved Karen’s phrasing because those three words nail it all for me.
Valuable to others.
I loved Karen’s phrasing because I believe, in the same way I believe in a life of service, that’s why we are here.
Whether it’s “using your gifts” on the surface, eight year old level (literally using gifts you’ve been given as it gives the the giver pleasure to see) or “using the gifts” or talents you possess to bring joy to others (as with the muralist).
From the first time I read the quote his words made sense to me.
- Whether you’re religious and leave the quote as it is.
- Whether you’re more spiritual and tweak the words to fit your deity.
- Whether you’re an atheist, drop the notion of G-d and replace with a simple “a” and “the world.”
(sits back. navel gazes. ponders. and invites you to do the same.)
Quite frankly here’s where Id normally close comments and ask you spend the day using your gifts to bring joy to the world, but we’ve chatted about how you don’t enjoy that.
So instead I ask you:
- Are there talents/gifts which come naturally to YOU which you take for granted or fail to see are valuable to others?