The Giveaway

Have you ever watched a movie, concert, visited a museum, been in awe of natural beauty, done or even seen something so moving to the point where you’re keenly aware of your heartbeat? At any second, it feels like it might just jump out of your chest. It’s pulsing and pounding, as if to tell you, “This — this is what you should be doing with your life…somehow, and in some way.”

I’m this way with music. With the exception of rap or super-sweet, bubble-gummy pop, I’ll watch a concert or listen to a song and occasionally be moved to the point of tears. If it’s a concert, everything from the audience’s reaction to the lighting, the stage design to the musicians’ instruments — all of it captures my attention. It could hold it for hours on end, if I let it.

Billy Joel was my first concert. My mom took me, and we had pretty good floor seats right next to the massive soundboard. When the lights dimmed, the first notes were played and the soundboard techs went to work, I cried. I had no words — it was simply a huge, awesome, moving and magical moment. I didn’t know why I was crying, but it didn’t matter. I simply suspected at the time that the whole experience was related to my life’s calling.

I think we all know that we’ve each been given gifts, but sometimes those gifts may not be immediately clear. When it comes to a gift, you’re supposed to do something with it — spread it around, share the love. It’s not meant to be kept to yourself. A gift is meant to be packaged beautifully, tied with a bow and then given away.

While I do play and write music, this isn’t a gift that I’ve turned into a career. And when I watch or go to a musical, a concert, listen to a new song or revisit an old one, I find myself wondering about this gift of music that I have. Not necessarily the “I play music” part, but the part that’s deeply moved by it. That’s a gift in itself. But what do I do with it? How do I give that away?

I took years of piano lessons growing up. I can’t give my knowledge — my gift — away through lessons, though, because I don’t have the credentials to teach. I could give someone my favorite music, but that’s merely a hand-off; it’s too literal, it’s lazy. Do I try to make music part of my advertising job? There’s a connection there, however loose. Or do I simply tell young people about it, and how amazing it is to be in the same arena, on the same stage, in the same concert hall and in the same airspace as people who took a dream and gave it wings? Do I rave about my own experiences and hope they feel the same fire? Do I put together a small band of my own, or continue on a solo path and hope that one day my on-the-side hobby becomes a bit more public?

I’m still trying to figure out how to use this particular gift, but in the meantime, I am beyond thankful for it. Realizing a gift exists is half the battle. Knowing how to properly give it away to make the most of that gift is the other half, but I have a feeling that figuring out the giveaway will be a gift in itself. To others, yes, but also to me.

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