We all have one
No matter who you are.
A unique gift, that you were born to give.
Are you giving your gifts fully?
On my first trip to India, over a decade ago, I met the richest man in the world in the poorest state of the country, called Bihar.
It was an insane 118 degrees. Exhausted, I collapsed on a bench in front of the Bodhi Temple, the main temple in Bodhgaya. Before me were ten beggars in formation, as if on some kind of beggar’s row, bowls in hand. This is business as usual in India, I thought. Same old, same old. I’d become somewhat numb to this. I mean, how many beggars can you help in a day? I’d cried a river, so I decided not to pay them any mind. Until, that is, my eyes fell upon the one beggar sitting on the floor in front of the temple.
Dressed in a blue cloth, and nothing else, a man was singing his heart out and drumming to his song. His hymns were to God, this much I knew from some of the words I’d studied. He sang with such devotion, purity, passion, and joy that it melted my numbness.
After a few minutes I realized that this man was blind! I thought, “Wow, he can’t actually see how much money he’s being given. And, he can’t see if anybody’s even listening to him.”
Clearly, this man wasn’t singing his song for wealth or fame. As I witnessed the purity of his expression to God, I ached to have that kind of goodness of intention in my own life. Needless to say, I was deeply moved.
Then I looked closer and saw that the beggar had stumps instead of arms! It took a second to compute. Unbelievable. Blind and without hands! He showed such mastery with this drum that I’d failed to notice this enormously important point. And yet, with every ounce of his energy, he beat his drum and sang his heart out like any passionate musician I’d ever seen.
He can’t see!
He has no arms.
He has no hands!
I started to weep, head in hands, standing right there in plain view of the other beggars. Tears were streaming down my face. I felt humbled. We’re so spoiled in the West. If this guy wanted to moan and complain, I’d give it to him. I’d say, “You, Sir, can be the one person alive I’ll give a special victim voucher to for whining.”
The more I focused on him, the more the tears fell. I thought about how I’d eat if I had no hands. Or how I’d pee. Or how I’d maneuver around the world without sight. In an instant, I saw and felt how very little I’d been appreciating what I had, always thinking there must be something more, that there was never enough.
Just when I thought I’d been hit with the full effect of the lesson, I realized that the reason he was not running around hustling foreigners like the others wasn’t because he couldn’t see or use his hands, but because there was something else I’d missed entirely. Unbelievably, this man had no LEGS! When I saw that reality, I just lost it, dropping to the dirt and sobbing.
Unbeknownst to him, this man with nothing was teaching me one of the most powerful lessons of my life. With a heart full of gratitude, I approached him and humbly knelt alongside him on the dirt. I looked at him. He turned and seemed to look straight through me. With no eyes, he somehow looked into my soul. I could literally feel his gaze pierce through me.
“How do you do it?” I asked. “How do you come out here day in and day out, singing and giving and sharing like this?” I was expecting the scent of roses, the heavens to part, and some great wisdom to pass his lips. He looked at me simply and with one line said:
“Is there anything else to do?” His words slayed me – simple yet so profound. Then he looked away and resumed his singing.
After his song was through, he looked at me again and said: “Life might give you what you want. Life may never give you what you want. But you can always give life who you are.” He then turned back around and started singing again, like nothing had happened. That’s when I realized that this was not a blind man, but a man with extraordinary vision. He could see his own gifts and gave of them freely.
That’s when I knew how poor I was.
I had all these gifts inside of me, and yet I wasn’t giving them.
I was the poor man. I was the beggar.
If the man who has nothing dares to give no matter his situation, then we who have plenty have no excuses.
Whether you know it or not, you’re playing your song to life anyway—your love song, if you will—every moment of every day. Don’t think they can’t hear you. Don’t think they’re not paying attention. Your song is as unique as you are. It’s as loud as a college marching band. As obvious as a billboard. As beautiful as a flower.
Every time you share yourself and your gifts, you do make a difference. Sometimes you may not directly see the difference you make, but rest assured you are.
So, sing it loud!
Really…… Is there anything else to do?………