Playing It Forward

It's that time of year again, the holidays.  This means in all liklihood you're going to fall in one of two camps.  A.) You put up your tree the day after Thanksgiving, your Christmas shopping was pretty much done in October, and you wear tacky Christmas sweaters with reckless abandon.   Or, B.) you started stressing about gifts in September, you're likely wandering around the mall by yourself Christmas Eve and everyone in your life got a gift card.  I sadly tend to be in the latter group.  It's not as if I don't like Christmas. I enjoy the season!  I love the lights, the tree, Santa, the spirit of giving and I especially enjoy the reason for the season. But the gift giving thing?  Yeah, it stresses me out to no end.  I would have made a horrible wise man, stessing the whole way to Bethlehem about what to give the Son of Man, probably pissed Amazon Prime was a good two thousand years into the future.  Major stress! 

So what's all this have to do with music?  Well, in my season of weird the end of 2020 is proving to be like the rest of the year, full of surprises and life lessons.  The two most recent lessons have had me thinking a lot about gifts.  The giving AND the receiving.  I can honestly say I'd much rather give a gift. It truly is a better feeling to give than to receive, especially when the gift given is one uniquely given by you, the giver.  However, what's been on my heart is what am I doing with the gifts I'm given?  Have I done my part as the receiver?  Doesn't the person who gave those expect me to use them?  If so, am I?  What would they think if they saw me squandering those gifts or worse, keeping them all to myself instead of bringing them out in the open for everyone to enjoy.  Indulge me... 

For me, music is a gift.  I know it's a gift for a lot of you too.  I haven't met many who don't enjoy the "gift" of music to some extent!  It's the backdrop for all the special moments in our lives.  I bet certain songs can transport you back to a place in time for key moments in your life or with the people who shaped who you are today.  I have several that transport me back in time.  Back to my bedroom floor w/ a Mickey Mouse record player and "American Pie," or a duplex somewhere in Miami while my mom cleaned the house to "My Sweet Lord" playing in the background.  There are several others. You undoubtedly have had those moments with music’s ability to transport across the ages too. Those are gifts. 

But what of my ability to make music? Teach it, understand it, compose and write it?  Isn't that also a gift?  I certainly enjoy it beyond measure and it has outlasted any earthly thing I've been given up to this point.  What do I do with that "gift."  Isn't it mine to keep?  It relaxes me, calms me, expands my mind, and for me personally brings me closer to my creator.  This week has certainly had me wondering about gifts, my gift of music in particular.  I've been wondering if maybe the gifts we're given are simply for us to pass on as the next gift giver in the chain. Maybe, life is one big "White Elephant" gift exchange.  Maybe I really need to focus on the pay it forward concept.  Or in this instance, “play” it forward! 

I have been approached twice this week by strangers interested in learning guitar.  Each for very very different reasons, both with very very extenuating circumstances. One nearly desperate to learn a song for a woman to profess his love.  The details are his to keep, but I know what it feels like to be in love. He had me at please. The other situation was very different, but no less overwhelming on my heart. A girl, young, with some physical disabilities.  She's normal by any observable standard and simply wants to do something to feed the desire in her heart to make music.  I can identify. She simply needs someone patient who will take the time to find a way.  And there is a way.  So, in the span of 48 hours during a week when I desperately needed to be reminded we are all broken and in need of one another, I was given the gift of two people needing something I could provide.  They needed my gift. And I am happy to say I gave of it freely. 

The ironic part to all this is that when we do this giving "thing," we begain to understand the true purpose of our gift. Giving of our gifts is where we get our greatest joy.  It's where we find purpose and satisfaction and true joy.  Giving is better than receiving, even if it is giving the gifts you've been given.  They were given to you to share.  They were given to you to give away.  So what's your gift?  Have you even thought about it?  I can promise you it wasn't bought.  You won't find it on Amazon and there isn't a gift card made for it.  Do you listen well?  Do you make the best apple pie in seven states? Can you sing and hear heaven's gate open when you do?  Maybe you cut grass, fix cars, style hair, reconcile expense reports, encourage, support, teach, listen, and on and on and on.  You have a gift.  If you don't know what it is, simply ask those around you.  They know. Then ask yourself if you've done your part in sharing it. Someone right now needs your gift and the odds are you do not have to go very far to find them.  They work with you, live with you, eat, pray, shop and stand behind you in the grocery store.  They are everywhere and they would absolutely love whatever gifts you have to share. 

Peace y'all.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays wherever you are!!