Recently I had a chance to reconnect with an old friend of mine. I hadn’t really had a chance to connect with her for several years. You know, kids, careers, family … daily living spins its web of time and keeps you very occupied. But over the Christmas holiday I got to spend several hours with her and it was a gift I won’t soon forget.
The gift was not just that she thinks differently than I do (which she does), or sees the world through a set of eyes unique and complementary to mine (which she has), or that she is both passionate enough and curious enough to explore crazy thoughts with me (which she is); as all of these would be amazing gifts alone. The most amazing piece was her desire to give me these gifts, free of attachments. I guess it was her appetite to connect with me that was brilliant.
It made me think of all the things we take for granted (including connection) as we spin through the distractions of our daily lives. A friend of mine wrote a book entitled “How We Choose To Be Happy” and one of the things he says is that happy people are grateful for what they have in their lives. Not that they don’t want to grow, but they really feel a profound sense of delight in what they are lucky enough to experience.
As I go through my life’s journey, I have become more sensitive to the gifts around me. And my friend’s connection with me was a sharp reminder to pay attention to these gifts. Benjamin Zander (the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic) has a great talk on TED. And one of his comments is to “think about someone you love who is no longer with you”. That comment is a great reminder as well of not to take things or people for granted and to really experience the gifts they have to offer.
So the question is: Who gives you a gift that you might be taking for granted? And how can you give them a gift back?
See you on the wire
– Steven Cardinale