Developing Our Gifts
I’m warming up to the theme of how we discover and deliver our gifts. Last time I pointed to the possibility that we don’t have to do anything, we just have to show up and be who we are. However, it’s also true that developing our gifts can take a lifetime and an enormous effort, and through the drive to master a skill or an art or a craft or a language, we discover who we are.
A few months ago I watched t.v. documentary about child prodigies. These were kids whose parents had recognized their child’s giftedness and poured every available resource, and then some, into training him or her to be a professional concert pianist by the age of 6-12 years old. They were amazingly accomplished yet while their feet could barely touch the pedals and their hands scarcely stretched across the keys, they were out there alone in front of an audience. It seems a funny kind of life for a kid.
Is giftedness then a mixture of an innate leaning towards a particular skill, combined with readiness, encouragement and resources? Well, maybe for some, although many geniuses and highly successful people have not made very promising starts. Take Einstein for instance, although he was clever he was unemployed for quite some time after graduating, as a result of his anti-authoritarian attitude. In the end he developed his evolutionary ideas whilst working at a mundane job.
My own experience has been that I pursued my gift for writing despite lack of encouragement. I loved writing stories from the age of seven and I’ve continued to scribble away for the rest of my life in one way or another. But as a kid I don’t remember either of my parents ever saying, “Why don’t you read me that great story you wrote today?” And later I can remember more than one otherwise nice boyfriend who laughed when I said I wanted to write a book. I don’t remember feeling disadvantaged by lack of encouragement. I simply wrote the stories, and later the poetry and the books and the educational manuals, because they were in me and wanted to come out. Because of this I’ve come to see our gifts as a drive that comes from inside, something that’s difficult to say no to. It’s so much a part of your nature you simply have to do it, no matter what. And it’s so much a part of who you are you often don’t appreciate it, like a favourite old dress or sweater, if someone gives you a compliment you say, “oh that old thing, I’ve had it for years!”
So I’ve learned to write by writing as all writers do. One of the great poets, I think it was T.S.Eliot, said 90% of writing is practice for when you have something to say. Another of my favourite writers, Annie Dillard who wrote “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” said she often spends a whole day writing one paragraph, and then throws it away. What I’m trying to say here is, we’re surrounded by a culture of instant gratification and “I want it now!” but some of the best things take a long time to mature and lots of patience, stickability and hard work. It’s the same with people who are successful with business, they’re successful because they don’t expect immediate results, they keep plugging away, they don’t get easily put off, they build and practice and experiment, and then one day the business takes off, or the book is written, or that really difficult piece you’ve been practicing on the guitar starts to flow, and then someone says ” You have a real gift for that” and you reply, “oh, it’s just something I do!”
So a gift is something you feel bursting out of you, it propels you to practice and learn and take risks on its behalf, and if you pay it enough attention eventually your gift will invite you to devote yourself to its development and it will become a major vehicle for learning who you are. Don’t be put off by other people’s negative reactions or lack of encouragement and if your creative well runs dry for a while, remember what the I-Ching says: “If your horse runs off don’t worry, if it’s your horse it will come back”. Your gift will keep coming back and tapping you on the shoulder as long as you give it attention. Like my dog, he comes and lets me know when he wants to go for a walk; he puts his paw on my knee and looks at me with those soulful brown eyes. But if I never took him for a walk, eventually he’d get resigned and give up and then grow lazy and spend most of his time asleep. Our gifts are the same, they’ll do everything they can to get our attention, they’ll keep coming back, but eventually if we don’t notice and value them and pay them attention and love them, they’ll give up on us.
When you make space for your gifts they will shower you with abundance. It may not be the abundance of fame and fortune, although it may be, but it will be an abundance unique to you. For me, writing has been the most satisfying and rewarding part of life. It has been a relationship with my deeper self, a way of understanding the creative process, a vehicle for reaching out to others. One of the greatest gifts writing has given me is a glorious freedom. That very lack of encouragement early on gave me a space free from pressure or intrusion, my own creative space where I could create new worlds and develop strength, self reliance and perseverance as I found my own voice and style. There’s not much that can beat the thrill of holding a finished book in my hand, or even a poem. I look at it and think, “Wow, that started out as an idea and now it’s a physical object I can hold in my hand.” Magic? Yes, certainly there’s magic in it and there’s also focus, intention, buckets of love, the joy of creating and a burning desire to connect with something bigger than little me and be of service to it.
I’d love to hear about your gifts and how you’ve developed them, and for those of you who are interested in personal and global transformation you may like our new blog: http://magnificentbeing.net
Rose Diamond lived in the Nelson/Golden Bay area of the South Island for 12 years. Her first book, Migration to the Heartland: A Soul Journey in Aotearoa, tells of her own journey to wholeness and is a love song to the spiritual beauty of New Zealand; her second book, Living your Passion: How Love-in-action is seeding a Whole New World, presents New Zealand as a potential role model for the world as a peaceful, sustainable society. Rose is a lifelong educator with a passion for whole person learning and a profound fascination with the creative process. Her own particular piece of the puzzle is mapping the inner process of transformation, recording and publishing some of the emerging community models for the new culture, helping to link initiatives locally and globally, and identifying the curriculum for the transition. Through her project, A Whole New World, she holds a vision for global unity through the awakening of consciousness and grassroots empowerment. To find out more about A Whole New World go to: www.awholenewworld.net for books: www.awholenewworld.net/books.htm or email me: email@example.comPhoto from Flikr by Procsilas, procsilas.net