Like many of us, I went to the gym today as part of my New Years resolution. My usual routine is to pop in my ear buds and retreat into my own world in the hopes of forgetting that I’m actually moving heavy weights around. Generally I don’t really notice other people. Just trying to get in and out as fast as I can. But today was different.
I couldn’t help but notice a man on the elliptical machine wearing what looked like the top part of a Spiderman costume. I don’t think I could have missed that if I tried. After the novelty wore off I tried to refocus on my workout but I kept finding that my attention would go back to this man. I secretly feared that I would be seen as “the creepy guy.” You know, the guy who silently stares at other people working out. But I just couldn’t resist. So while being the self admitted “creepy guy” this thought popped into my head. What if we were all super heroes? Who would we be? Spiderman? Superman? The Hulk?
All super heroes have special powers, what I like to call gifts. I used to love comic books as a kid so I know that Spiderman’s gifts are that he is really sensitive, intuitive and agile. At least the more human attributes. And if those are gifts then I realized that we all have gifts. They might not be as exciting as shooting webs from your wrists or flying through the air but they are gifts none the less, our own unique gifts.
I decided to go over and introduce myself to this Spiderman. With a warm smile he told me his name was Sam. I come to learn that Sam has survived throat cancer, a triple bypass and two hip replacements. And then he made sort of a passing comment, “See, I have a real zest for life.” There it was! One of his gifts. I don’t think he was aware of it but I was. Do you know how infectious it is to stand next to someone with a real zest for life? Try it. It’s intoxicating.
He went on to share some more stories before I politely interrupted him and asked if he knew what his gifts are. He had a sort of puzzled look on his face and then answered, “His wife.” He mentioned a few other external things before I stopped him and rephrased the question. Do you know what gifts you bring to the world? You. Not someone else. You. He stopped. I saw him searching as he mumbled to himself and then said, “No. I don’t.” I was saddened by this. I said, “You survived all of these health issues for a reason…” There was a pause. After searching himself again he basically said, “My unconditional love for my family.” He shared how much he loves his two grown sons, his grandchildren and his wife. How when he heard that his grandchildren were going to go to daycare so young, he immediately retired to take care of them while his sons worked. I was so touched by this. Before I said goodbye I reminded Sam about his other gift, his zest for life.
How many of us even know what our gifts are? If you are lucky enough to know them do you stand in them? Do you share them? Or do you hide them for fear of being shamed or different or rejected? We all have them. They don’t have to look like anything you’ve seen on T.V. or read in a magazine. You don’t have to save the world or invent the next greatest thing in order to have gifts. Maybe you are a great listener. Maybe you’re sensitive to people’s feelings. Maybe you’re good at fixing things. These are all true gifts that touch people’s lives. Next time you feel like you don’t have anything worthwhile to share remember Sam with his unconditional love and Zest for life.
Zest for Life