Radiogurl a la Carte

Saturday, Dec. 25, 2004
My Gifts

Merry Christmas, everyone.

As often as I gripe here, I want this entry to be different. Some of the folks here will tell what they got for Christmas, in the sense of large or small tangible gifts. Those are wonderful because they are thoughtful translations of the loves in our lives. But these are the gifts that we as a people have been granted, the ones that overflow beyond Christmas.

We in the USA and most of the civilized world are blessed with freedom. Most civilized nations have the freedom to elect our leadership, at least at some level. Some might argue that it's not an efficient method of government, and it's not. It's a glorified popularity contest, on the surface. But if we stop to think about it, that makes ALL voters powerful, because we all do play a part, no matter how impotent we sometimes feel as individuals, whether or not the candidate of our choice won.

We have the freedom to fight, in court or in the media, for rights that have not yet been definied, or against a violation of our rights. Yes, sadly, there are parts of the world where it is outlawed and people are persecuted and killed for daring to defy repression, but sooner or later, someone will escape to tell what happened. At that point the violations become a part of the court of the world's awareness, and condemnation is sure.

Most of us have the freedom to pursue the job we want, live where we want, have the number of children we want, and to eat what we want. Yes, there are often limitations in our lives. We may not have enough money at a given time to carry out a particular wish, but the option is always there for most of Western civilization, though sadly, isn't true all over the world.

We are blessed with the laughter of children. This particular facet is something that even the most grueling dictatorship can't change. The most sadistic madman can only silence the phenomenon temporarily, because there will be more generations to follow, long after he's dead and buried. A child's laughter is symbolic and intangible, representing the hope of a tomorrow that hasn't yet arrived, the joy of the now, and the memories of all our yesterdays. It is one of the more beautiful gifts we've been granted as a species.

We have imagination - oh, what imagination! If you have any doubt, look at the entries in Diaryland. Look at the millions of books that have been published, the masterworks of art, the children's paintings; listen to the staggering variety of music that exists. And in spite of all the things that came before, we still find new things to say, because imagination was given to us without limits.

And we have love, sometimes whether we want it or not, whether or not we are lovable. That is the greatest of all gifts, because without it we are nothing; we're a lot of clanking and noise. That's a paraphrase of a Bible verse, but it's so very true. Love is the part of us that is supremely kind, a willingness to set aside our own desires in order to address the needs or wants of another. It can also be caring enough about someone to walk away and force them to come to terms with their inner demons. That kind of love is excruciatingly painful, but no less important.

That brings us to another gift, a bit more rare, sometimes by choice. That gift is wisdom. I'm not talking about education or knowledge. Those are wonderful, too; they're just not the same thing is wisdom. You could say that education and knowledge are the cars, but wisdom is learning how to drive the car, put in the gas, and change the oil. You can have a million dollar car, and without the ability to drive it, it's just a very expensive chunk of fiberglass, steel, and rubber.

Finally, we have an unequally-disbursed gift, called peace. Some of us discovered it, some of us have never known it, and some of us lost it in war or in something we mistook for love. It is as simple as a moment's quiet when a baby sleeps and as complex as the silence of souls destroyed by terrorism. Politicians give lip service to the name of peace. Some heart-rendingly young soldiers die for it. Some children and adults never know it until their life drains away from them, stolen by the very person who should have been protecting them. Some rare souls embody it in their actions, devoting their lives to spreading it any way that they can.

May you find all of the gifts of the season within your home and your heart this Christmas.

Before - After

In the grander scheme of things, no soul can truly be replaced. Each one of us has a place in the universal tapestry. We each contribute our own color and texture. When one thread is snipped too soon, it distorts all the threads around it. Other lives can unravel and tear. If the wrong thread is ripped away, the whole fabric of life becomes dangerously fragile.
- LeiLani, aka Radiogurl aka Bright Opal (1957 - )