Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gifts

One of my daughters does a lot of sewing; it's just something she loves doing, especially cute clothes for little kids. Her own son gets a lot of well-made clothes, with interesting design features (though his mother was a bit dubious about him choosing a High School Musical design on his latest shirt. )

Recently she's been making clothes for the latest grandchild - he's very small because he arrived six weeks early, and so shop-bought clothes look like they belong on a giant. But my daughter really enjoys making clothes for girls, and so birthdays are a great opportunity for her to go a bit wild and produce skirts and tops and other girly delights.

I really admire people with gifts that just seem to come out of nowhere. They have an enthusiasm for a particular skill, and learning it comes easily, and keeping on learning is never a trouble. My wife is like that: she's picked up a bunch of skills during her lifetime, in each case because something got her enthused to give the thing a try. The skills I've got, on the other hand, I've had since I was a child, pretty much: playing the piano and writing, primarily. I suppose you could add learning how to use a computer to those, something that I only picked up in the 80s, but other skills that require eye-hand coordination don't come at all easily to me.

One of my sons taught himself programming in a matter of a few weeks, and each new programming language that he learns come even more easily than the last.

A colleague of mine went for an assessment for a further stage in her career recently, and part of the weekend she spent away (along with a bunch of other candidates) was being seen by a psychologist. One of the questions he asked was something I found interesting: what gifts did you get in your mother's womb? At first you think: nothing. Every gift I've got I've had to acquire. But in fact some of the gifts we have come with the package; they were there from the time we were. They're part of who we are, and we probably couldn't live without using them in some way. These aren't just skills, or talents; they cover the whole range of ways of relating to people and the like.

And sometimes you wonder if these gifts don't go unrealised. I heard last night about a young man who discovered that he had nose. Hardly unusual, you'd think, except that what perfumers mean by a 'nose' and what you and I mean by it are two different things. Without a 'nose' you could never work in the perfume industry. With one, you're an absolute find.

But would you come out of school thinking: I have a nose. I must find a job in a perfume factory? Nope, having a nose (just as having a palate for food or wine) is something you either discover or don't. Sadly, there are probably a lot of people who never discover what they've brought into this world.
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