Everyone has a gift. Some of them are specialized for a small audience, like the gift of a child to make a mother smile or to calm a father's nerves. Sometimes that gift grows into the gift to make entire rooms of people smile, perhaps even into a profession of healer or comedian, sometimes it doesn't. Gifts come and gifts go. Some gifts get lost and others arrive to take their place. As time goes on there are gifts we polish and treasure and like good tools or talismen; they serve us on our journey. And still, there are gifts that sit on shelves, not used by us because they're a little hard to reach and maintain, so we don't quite lose those, but we do lose sight.
I remember meeting a guy, a speaker who had shown up for a TED event where he was meant to speak about "Unexpected Gifts." His gift was one of memory. He woke up one day and while helping his daughter with some homework realized he could suddenly remember everything he read. His memory had become photographic and to a rather extraordinary level. Later on a few of us gathered in a local pub and got to chatting. The poor guy had a fear. He was scared of losing his gift. He tested his memory all the time. He gave talks. He did everything he could to assist his gift and to capitalize on it, too. The family had come to depend on his gift. The pressure in his heart, it was building. We talked a little more and told him not to worry. If it went as quickly as it came it was still a great experience. He could even write a book about losing the gift just as much as he could about gaining the gift. He needed to trust.
I remember the first time someone I respected told me I was a good writer; a born one, she said. I was filled half with joy, and half with dread. I've spent ten years eradicating both of those feelings and allowing it come to a gentle flow of acceptance. Yes, I like the writer's life. I'm born to loving a quiet day with only my fingers and my mind speaking to the world. Yes, I like polishing my gift and flipping it around. Now it's a mirror. Now it's a sword. Now it's a...well, the list goes on and on. It's my tool and my toy. It's a gift.
I polish my writing by reading others and by living with an open quality. When I close my mind, my writing suffers. It doesn't matter if I write about the horrors of torture, the wonders of technology or the humour of living. Opening the mind and keeping the intuition open allows me to flow with the gift. When I think of how it hurts sometimes, the rejection, the appropriations, I try to remember the child. Would it be so satisfying just to make one or two willing people smile or would it be better to try and reach all the world? When I become possessive of the gift or identify with it too heavily I remember the burly guy and his tired eyes looking at me across a backroom pinball machine. Gifts come and go, and so do we. No matter how big the gift, it's never really ours and we, are never really our own. We belong to something much bigger and a little bit of gratitude and a great sense of adventure make each gift lighter and easier to keep at our service.
Now...onto the rest of the day...