Sunday, May 1, 2011

the greatest gifts

What is the best gift you have ever given? received?

Given: I try to be creative and personal with gifts. But, by far the best gift I ever gave to someone was for a very close friend of mine's birthday... which is only a few days separated from Christmas. This meant I had to give something double the goodness. He being an adept sailor, lover of boats, and all-around water person... and me being a painter (though very novice...), I decided to paint him a series of sailboat paintings. Each painting had a unique color scheme and thereby a sort of personality. Altogether, there were two cool-family paintings and two warm-family paintings.






No, they are not anything earth-shattering or especially innovative. Nonetheless, this friend's reaction upon receiving the paintings was one of being overwhelmed... I think in a good way. I had the paintings all lined up against the wall and I brought him over with his eyes closed. When he opened his eyes, he just kept repeating 'wow' over and over again... and finally had to sit down and just take it all in. He thanked me multiple times until finally I told him, "You don't understand. You have given me the gift. Making these paintings was an experience that brought pure happiness and peace of mind to me. I should be thanking you." I meant it.

Received: Up until recently, I would have said detailed feedback on my poetry. I write poetry and enjoy sharing it with people with whom I become close. Often, even these people that care the most about me just read it quickly and tell me it is 'really interesting' or that 'I'm not really good with poetry' or a broad and vague 'it's good!'

I once dated someone and as we grew closer, I gave him some of my poems. He didn't mention them for a couple days. Finally, when I was pretty sure they had gotten lost in some pile on his desk, he brought them up. His thoughts, comments, and insights were incredibly specific. He had sat down and read the poems multiple times. Further, he had made notes of which things had touched him the most and why, of what metaphors brought him around to other associations, of where he struggled the most to understand, of what parts were the most powerfully and directly emotional. I was dumbstruck... and incredibly touched. For someone to take the time like that proved to me the depths to which that person cared about who I was, how I thought, and what was inside of me.

I mentioned at the beginning of this 'best received' section that this would have been my response until recently. My greatest gift now consists of the following: The man I have been dating gave me a card for a special day in my life. On this card were written words that spoke to me beyond anything I can express. I do not intend to reproduce the intimate details of that message here -- those are words and emotions that are meant to stay between only us. However, I will say that the seemingly simplest gift...the gift of expression... of saying what you want to say... of letting someone in on what is inside of you... is the greatest gift I can ever think of receiving. I will never receive a more touching, more moving, more meaningful gift than this card. It is imprinted on my heart for the rest of my days. And this gift, as Lao-Tzu suggests, gives me courage.

"Where there is great love, there will always be miracles." - Willa Cather
"There is no remedy for love but to love more." - Henry David Thoreau
"To love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved by someone deeply gives you courage." - Lao-Tzu
"Love is life. And if you miss love, you miss life." - Leo Buscaglia

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