Every gift, though it be small, is in reality great, if given with affection.
For my birthday last March one of my journal friends (you know who you are) sent me the kind and generous gift of the CD on which Susan Boyle sings her songs. I listened to it again this morning. Many of her songs are about lost love and being alone. I always shed a tear when I hear it. It touches me. Many of the messages are so relevant to my life.
"How can I not be grateful for my whole life?" wrote Nietzsche. And we should indeed be grateful for the life we have been given and the experiences we have had in the living of it. But there are also the regrets for the life we did not have, the dreams that were never fulfilled, the hopes that were dashed and the pain we have found and given out to others.
From the deep darkness of self we can find the gifts of wisdom, clearness and love to share with those who can receive them. The gift of ourselves is the gift from the hollow well of life, hollow but filled with jewels.
From my own shattering disappointment in myself I thought the moments of truth I could give as an artist on the stage would heal my regrets. I came to find out even better the healing took place in the hearts of people who saw me and heard me speak. Those were the simple gifts I could give, and they did come back to me sometimes.
There is one experience I will never forget. We were touring a production of "Orphans" to homeless shelters, half way houses, drug rehabilitation centers and hospitals in New York City. I played the role of an older man straightening out the lives of two aimless youngsters. We played a large homeless shelter on the upper West Side of Manhattan. The audience was very small, only about 20 guys, and after the performance we took a bow. When I looked up there was a tall, black man. 60 to 70 years old, with tears coming down his cheeks. He just took my hand in both of his and said "Thank you."
A single performance in the corner of a recreation room, with no special lights, a few pieces of furniture and yet something I did went right to the center of that man's life.
Did I clean out some regret, did I answer a life long question, did I solve a burdensome mystery, did I enable him to forgive? I will never know what effect it had on him beyond that moment but it was surely a gift given and returned with affection.
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