I have a lovely friend named Candy, who I met in college at Miami University too many decades ago. I always admired her and wanted to get a little closer, but I did something really stupid. I got too busy with life and didn’t pursue a friendship my instincts told me would be valuable. I’m sure none of you are stupid enough to have ever done this. But I can be short-sighted like that.
Don’t let the picture scare you. Candy, fortunately didn’t die. I’ll tell you about the tombstone in a minute. When I retired from teaching last year I finally had my second chance to reconnect with Candy. I got just a little bit smarter and I did it. I found an email address in an old Christmas letter and I contacted her. We have been exchanging enjoyable emails for over a year and catching up on our lives. What a lovely gift I gave myself at this point in my life.
One of the wonderful talents I rediscovered in Candy was her writing. She is simply a beautiful writer. I’ve complimented her on her writing style frequently and encouraged her to share her talent with others. Candy was an only child and confided that she really wanted to write stories about her parents. They are both gone now and she realized if she didn’t write about them, who would ever know them once she was gone? Memories of them would be lost to the world. But this wonderful friend is something of a perfectionist. She is her own worst critic. Too many of us do that to ourselves. Don’t we? If these stories couldn’t be absolutely perfect, she told herself, “Why begin?”
That is when her annoying friend, (yep,me) after reading one more delightful email from Candy complimented her one more time on her writing and then posed this tactless question. “Do you really want to take this talent to the cemetery with you without sharing it with anyone?” See tombstone above. Oh, I can be such a thoughtless and undiplomatic nag when I spot a buried treasure. It’s that somewhat ‘tact free’ approach to kicking people in the pants that made me a good teacher.
Guess what? I don’t remember using that sentence on her. But she just sent it back to me yesterday. It was pretty embarrassing to realize how I had worded that challenge. But I forgive myself, because she has started to write wonderful stories about her parents. It worked. Her parents are reborn as she makes them come alive in her writings.
So now, I’m asking you. “What talent do YOU have that you are saving for the cemetery? Is that really the best use of your talents?” Of course, none of us plan to take our talents to the grave. Would it take a terminal diagnosis to get you going? What are you gonna’ do about sharing those talents today? I’m here to nag you just a little bit about it.
This week in addition to my blogs, I’ve written two pieces I’ve submitted for a writer’s contest and a publication. I might not win. They might not print my work. Rejection isn’t fun. In fact, rejection stings. But picturing that cemetery keeps me trying. What about you?