I have been sitting here with a lovely buzz going and I started thinking of all the gifts passed down to me from my parents. (Spoiler alert: None of us do this early or often enough).
To reduce all the love, advice, lessons, I mean the totality of what your parents ever said or did with you in your entire life, down to one single gift that has served you well and made you a better person by doing so?
Man, that’s a tough one.
As for myself, I would have to say it is the ability to communicate with people of multicultural backgrounds, from different financial levels and strata, from all walks of life.
This gift has helped me reach unprecedented highs and lows in my life, and there are situations I was fortunate enough to survive because of the life-skill. Unfortunately, communication, or miscommunication more aptly, is also the cause of survival-type scenarios, so not so good there.
Blame it on communication.
When done right—magic.
When done wrong—fuhgettaboutit as the Domestic Despot Karen would attempt her very poor Tony Soprano impersonation.
I love movies that show relationships develop between different ideologies at the very core. Where nonverbal cues are the communication. The eyes can and do open up the world to each and every one of us.
When I was six years old I was living in the tiny Japanese farming village of Nakagami-Akashima. We were one of only four American families living there.
I had a girlfriend named Sichiko. I know it has been 61 years since, but I can still remember her as a very beautiful and quiet girl. I first saw her at the market where she was buying fish. I started flirting blatantly (what other way does a dumbass little American boy know how to show his feelings?) with her and after what seemed like years, more likely a few weeks, she invited me home to meet her family.
Now even at age 6 I was a very communicative young lad and was perceived as intelligent and charming because of it.
My mother taught me to talk the same to all people regardless of station or wealth.
She was big on that.
Sichiko had me meet her in the little village square which had a beautifully carved stage where plays and music were performed nightly during festival. Brightly colored lights and banners draped the stairwells.
I was sucking the last juice out of a frozen pineapple ring and saw Sichiko walking towards me.
My heart jumped when she smiled at me.
We went to her house and I was asked (pretty much told) to sit in a little room where her dad sat and a teapot belched steam on a hotplate. He clapped his hands as soon as I folded my legs under the table and two cups appeared.
He poured tea and then all he did was look at me.
For thirty-six minutes.
He grinned, smiled, furrowed his brows, the whole gamut of emotions.
He never said a word.
He didn’t have to.
I looked him dead in the eyes and as I got up and went to the door, I knew exactly what he had been communicating to me in silence.
He was saying OK you little American shit, don’t even think about it.