I don’t think of myself as gifted in almost any sense. A gift is unearned ability. I wish I was. I have wished my whole life that I was so good at one thing that the world would allow me to be single minded. But for whatever reason, that has never been true. From 17 to 30, all I wanted was to be was a songwriter. I tried really hard. I did well, I had whispers of success or big things, but nothing substantial enough upon which to hang an identity or ego or a mortgage.
I do however have talents. Talents are things you build. They may involve gifts, but a talent to me is the thing you have constructed.
If I could recognize one gift I do have though, I would say I have the gift of reaction. Its my one trick pony in comedy. Its my relationships, its my answer to the tragedies I have experienced. I’m proud of how I handle bad news. Somehow, the worse the news, the better my reaction. Strangely, day to day annoyances hit me harder than life events of seismic consequence. I think its a manifestation of the ADD brain. Under the most pressure, I am the most calm.
Part of the way this has manifested in my life for good is in rejection. Rejection is the biggest fear and the biggest teacher. Its in everything. Death is the ultimate rejection. And every smaller rejection carries in it a black seed of the big one. Thats why things hurt. Thats why failure, or losing love, or embarrassment stay with us. They haunt us not for what they are, but for what they signify. The ultimate blackness of death.
We fear rejection and its right to do so. The fear of it motivates our best effort sometimes. But even you on your best day can be rejected. You can be let down, you can fail.
The black seeds go into everyone.
You can try to hide them, but they are there.
The only thing I can say I am naturally gifted at is receiving these seeds. The other day I was talking with friends at our local dive bar The Mill, and we were talking about this. Everything I love about myself is one large constructed reaction to a time when someone I love hurt me. Underneath all my virtue is one tiny vice. Underneath the house is one tiny black seed.
When my brother’s widow (who I recognize now as a flawed and unstable person) tried to hurt me by saying that “nothing that you have is your own”. It stung, because in some ways, she was right. She was not trying to help me. She was trying to shame me. I grew up working in my family’s business in my teen years. My brother Bradley and her were my buffers. They helped shield me from the chaos and made my world simple. They also profited off of me. I worked for them and made them a lot of money, and we were at that time more father son than brother brother. This started to chafe at some point, and thus my odyssey into Denmark was a necessity. But part of why it hurt was because maybe she was right in some small way.
Thats why now, everything is mine. I don’t split things. I own 100% of my company, and property, etc.. I need to know that no one can ever say something to me like that again without getting laughed out of the room.
When I was married, we were both so young. I hold no unforgivenes from that era. I want nothing but absolution from that time in my life. But one of the scars I carried for a while was the feeling that I was inadequate sexually. Not attractive, or manly enough. I may have felt this way with anybody. I was a young man finding my self and my way in one of the most attractive and intelligent cities in the world. But the poignant rejection rung a deep bell inside of me that can never be unrung.
Thats why it mattered to find my own primal power later in life. Around that black seed a new version of myself appeared.
Every black seed thrown into the soil of who you are is a chance to build an opposite altar.
Your reaction is everything. Your counter punch. Your ability to win the room back. Whoever you are reading this, I hope you find your own way to honor the black seeds in your life by building the real you around them.
Maybe they will one day be your most prized possession.