Someone recently reminded me that everybody has something; something going for them, and/or something going against them. We can’t see it because all we can see is what is in front of us. The most beautiful person in the world may have the outward appearance of someone who has the world by the tail, and we think (perhaps enviously), ‘they have nothing to worry about; they have it all.’
Well, maybe they don’t. They may be suffering from such low self-esteem that all they see in the mirror is a loser, a failure, an ugly person, a wash-out.
Then there is someone we might not even notice in our daily lives who has a brilliant mind and unbelievable talents; but never puts himself in the limelight. How many times have we been in awe of someone who, say, can pick up a guitar, put their hand on the strings and break your heart with the beauty of the music?
It’s funny how we can so easily discount our own gifts; we become so used to them that we think “well, anyone can do that; it’s nothing special.” But to the person who can’t do that, it’s an amazing feat.
For me, words come easily. Ideas or thoughts or even one word someone says will spark an idea that turns into a blog post, poem or short story. It took me a long time to realize that this too is a gift; I am better with the written word than I am with actual speech. I stutter, I often don’t get the right words out, I stop in the middle of a sentence and then can’t remember what I was trying to say. Speaking is kind of an effort for me.
When I was in grade school, there were a few kids in my class who were mentally retarded (please excuse me if I’m not using the current ‘correct’ term). Everyone in class knew them, and we just worked with each other the best way we could.
One boy whose name I now forget could barely speak; he had a terrible speech impediment, and it was hard to understand him. However, he had a gift that no one else had. Any knot in any material; string, tape, cloth, etc.; he could unravel it. He would study the knot, humming lightly to himself, and then he would nod as if to say, ‘all right; that’s how to do it.’
Then he would go to work unraveling, and in very little time, the knot was gone. A simple thing perhaps, but definitely special. I think of him often and how that little gift of his set him apart from the rest of us in such a positive way. It wasn’t unusual for someone at recess playing cat’s cradle to inevitably get the string all tangled up, and would call for him to help. As he lumbered over with his shambling walk, he always had a big grin on his face because he knew he could help.
People are so much more than they appear to be. It’s hard not to judge people from what we see on the outside—that may be nothing like what is on the inside. I have learned over years and years of my own arrogance at assuming that some person was this, that, or the other thing. I was wrong so many times that I finally learned to say to myself, ‘don’t assume!’
The person who swerves in front of you on the road with no signal might be rushing to the hospital after finding out that their father just had a heart attack. The woman who pushed in front of you in line at the grocery store might have just gotten a bad diagnosis. We don’t know what’s going on in anyone else’s heart and mind; all we see is the outside.
I’ve mentioned this in another post a few years back but it bears repeating: a man got on the city bus with his four very rowdy children. He himself appeared to be in a trance of some sort while the kids ran amok. They chased each other up and down the isles screaming, they knocked over a lady’s cane and didn’t apologize; they were out of control.
One angry traveler spoke to the father saying, ‘can’t you control these kids? They are driving us all crazy!”
The man looked at him and said, “I’m so sorry. You see, their mother just died at the hospital and they don’t know what to do. Neither do I.” Needless to say, the annoyance changed quickly to compassion.
Everybody does have something; good or bad. It is not always apparent, but you can be sure it is there; we just have to look.