In a rare moment of clarity, it came to me that we all have gifts, inspirations and aspirations.
We all are gifted at something, whether musical ability, mechanical skill, patience, empathy, organization, writing–the types of gifts each of us may naturally have are really endless.
Many of us are probably gifted at more than one thing, but there is usually one that rises to the top. This gift is one that just comes naturally, whether you want it or not, it’s just in you. Mine, for example, is writing. I’ve always been able to write, and there’s no apparent reason why.
I haven’t done a scientific survey, but for most of us, our lives don’t necessarily follow our naturally gifted path; we get sidetracked for many reasons, and our gifts may or may not lead us to lives for which we were intended.
Using my writing example, I got on that path circuitously through the Marine Corps, where I eventually became a combat correspondent photojournalist. After the Corps, I wandered off the path into municipal public administration. And now, as evidenced by this blog, I’m back on the writing path.
If you’re lucky, your gift gives you or someone else inspiration. Your gift is so natural that you are inspired by it to do good things for yourself and others.
For every gift, there is someone who needs it.
If you are gifted with empathy, there is someone who needs your understanding; if you are a gifted mechanic, someone needs your gift to get their car started; if you are gifted with organizational skills, someone needs your help to get their lives in order.
And by using your gift to help, serve, entertain or enrich others, it may inspire them to use their gifts–sort of a pay-it-forward concept.
When a gift inspires yourself or others, it can create a desire to aspire to even greater heights. Aspirations are good; they’re sort of like unwrapped gifts, hinting at what might be there but not revealing it until you make the effort to peel off the wrapping.
Just as hope is not a plan, aspiration is not reality, but remains more like a dream until you take action on it.
Aspirations don’t lead to reality by luck; luck is when opportunity meets preparation.
If you aspire to something, it drives you; it is a primal urge. It is something you are so naturally gifted with that it has inspired you to develop it and aspire to bring it to its full and natural bloom.
There are probably a very small percentage of people who manage to realize their gifts early in life, who are inspired to develop them and aspire to follow through to fully develop them.
But my unscientific belief is that most of us may never even realize what our true gifts are and, if we do, we get sidetracked by life and don’t ever get the chance to find them.
Or, sometimes we pursue what we perceive as our gift when, in reality, there is a greater gift that we have totally missed.
In my case, for example, while my path has led me to writing and I am inspired by it and aspire to continually be better at it, I have to wonder if by hitting one bull’s-eye I’ve missed another.
I learned late in life the power of making music. I started playing guitar at age 21, played for fun, got halfway good at it, and got in my first band at age 50. That’s when I realized how much making music drives me.
Truly, playing guitar and singing is on my mind pretty much constantly. Even as I am writing this, I have the urge to pick up a guitar and strum it. I could play with the band for hours and not get tired of it.
So I realized I have this gift to play music that makes people happy and got inspired to get better at it–it’s a work in progress and always will be.
But now I have aspirations of taking it somewhere else. I don’t know where, how or why. I guess inspiration that brings gifts to higher aspirations doesn’t always go in a straight line.
I do know that music without an audience is just noise; it’s like if a tree falls in the woods and there’s nobody there, does it make a sound?
So I need to find audiences who need my music. It could be senior care homes, children or people in hospitals, or maybe people just wanting to have entertainment at a party–or all of the above and some I don’t know yet.
Somewhere, someone would be inspired by my gift. Or at least it would make them smile and feel good.
I do think that it’s never too late to find your gift, get inspired and aspire to realize greater things than what life might have initially set out for you.
You may never get as high as you reach, but in trying you’ll get further than not trying at all.
So, are there any PRB Week-Enders who have gifts they are inspired to share with us today? You never know when sharing might inspire someone else to find their gifts as well.
Randy Gaddo, a retired Marine who also served for 15 years in municipal parks and recreation, is now a full-time photojournalist who lives in Peachtree City, Ga.; he can be reached at (678) 350-8642 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.