One of my friends experienced a rift in her life – when she was a child her mother decided to leave her husband in the US – and she took her daughter and resettled in Portugal.
Leaving San Diego, California behind as an 8 year old, and starting her life again in Lisbon with her mother was a strange process. Not knowing the language or customs, not having any friends or people to go to for comfort radically changed who she is today.
As an adult, she recognizes Portuguese to be her gift. When she is feeling saudade, a longing, for her past she knows that it gives her riches. Access to another language and culture is a gift she can pass along to her children.
We often think of gifts as objects – riches; or as skills – abilities. I can’t play an instrument and can grow sad thinking of an entire part of life I am missing. I don’t have the means to go to the moorish castle in Spain that is haunting my dreams and filling up my web browser with pictures and history. But there are other things that are uniquely mine.
As a writing prompt, today is an opportunity to take a moment and think about what inherent gifts your life has provided. They might not be obvious, since they are a core part of who you are. They also may have brought unpleasant things into your life, just as money can lead you down a path towards excess. But still, a gift is a gift.
My gifts include: the experience of a stable family, truly being loved, moving all over the USA as a child, being a foreign exchange student to Japan at the age of 15, riding horses and working at a stable…
Each one of these things had unexpected benefits:
- Only by being around so many contemporaries from divorced homes did I come to understand the stability of my family as a gift.
- Through talking with a friend who never knew her father, I can recognize how having such an amazing father informed my relationship with men growing up.
- Being a punk rock teenager in 80s Japan, I understood that we are told how to do things, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a universal law.
- Riding horses and working at a stable during my adolescence helped me through my awkwardness by knowing I was strong, enjoyed getting dirty, and that animals have as complex of personalities and quirks as people. If you can handle a creature a thousand pounds heavier than you with a mind of its own, you feel empowered to take on the day to day trials of being a teenager.