Gifts for Giving

Over the past few years I've increasingly taken notice of the enormous talent of people around me. I don't mean to keep going back to it, but the sickness and passing of my brother seemed to open my eyes to something bigger than me. The God-given talent of artists and tradespeople and musicians and writers around me, is positively dizzying. I'm pretty sure it was there before, but maybe I wasn't as cognizant of it as I am now.

Sometimes death tilts a person's axis so they look at everything with a new orientation. For me it seems to have enabled me to better recognize the good in people, the talents that I don't have, talents that amaze me. I've mentioned things like the drumming of Neil Peart (from Rush) and the guitar work of Mark Knopfler (formerly of Dire Straits),  or the voice of Norah Jones. But those are all professionals. I'm talking about people around me, like me, that are working stiffs with day jobs, but have secondary passions and pursuits in their life that brings them joy and fulfillment.

For instance. my friend Brandon, by day, is an amazing pastor with a gift for reaching middle school, high school, and college kids and shaping their faith. On the flip-side, Brandon pursues photography and always been quite good at it. He's taken some pictures of Sarah that we used for her graduation and he clearly captured her spirit.

Now, he is looking to add it to his career path in order to help him become what is referred to as bivocational. He is looking to start a photography business of his own and he comes with high recommendations from me and others. His eye for color, shadow, pose, emotion, action and light are keen and dialed in. As part of a collection he's doing for a magazine, he shot photos of me and two other of our Thursday coffee guys. When all the photos were put together, it came out stunning, kind of a "Humans of Waukesha" spread. Amazing talent put to use for good.

Or, I think of my wife and her love of food and all things cooking. Nothing makes her happier than making people happy with food. (It was a talent I recognized early and said, I better not let this one get away. :-) As a matter of fact my son just said today after she cooked him lunch and dinner that it's been a "good day for food". Even better than cooking at home is she's taken that talent to the next level in coordinating dinners for the homeless shelter once a month. The guys are always saying how her meals are uniquely good. Using her talents for good.

And there's all of my talented writer friends. This has been a banner year for many colleagues. I've helped and been helped by their many skills and encouragement. Puzzling mysteries, fun kids/tweens books, mystical Young Adult fantasies, redemptive fiction, beautiful memoir, poignant poetry. These people fuel my spirit and are creating a source of escape for hundreds of people. Using their writing talents for good.

I have a host of artist friends that create beautiful work every day, stuff I cannot even fathom beginning, let alone carrying through to completion. The names are far too many, but a few are Stacey, Jill, Fernando, Sara, Mark, Christopher Kristina, Lynne, and of course my son Ben and my daughter, Sarah. When I think of writing as left-brained, well, art has a hemisphere all to itself. Off the charts creativity. I cannot see it, layer it, picture it, or design it. With these people, it just flows. Beautiful stuff and all talent for good.

And finally, there are those that play music. Being one who loves music but has never been able to play a note, I admire these people greatly. I think of the hours and hours of practice it must take. The two that come immediately to
mind are Nick and Mario. I've talked about Nick before as the talent behind the Dirty Shirt video. His multi-instrument mastery is the best part. He can play many instruments well and all of them accompany a pretty good voice as well. Mario is a gifted guitarist as well, layering and mixing his own recordings with precision. These guys are all about using their talents for good.

So, like I said, these are all qualities and spectacular talents in people that have been blindingly real to me lately. All of us have talents and they don't have to be artistic in nature It could be raising kids, cooking, athletics, coaching, teaching, compassion, friendship, auto maintenance, home repair, public speaking, or whatever.

And I suggest that you use them up before you're gone, because the world is begging for them.

Blogging off...

(I'm thinking each of these friends needs their own post on So it Goes... Each of them are certainly worthy. I haven't ruled that out.)


Kate said…
I love the way you encourage others to look at the world and the people around them in new ways. Talents often go unnoticed and a little praise can go a long way. Thanks for opening my eyes to the importance of letting my sphere know how thankful I am for their gifts.

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