A well-known surgeon was attending a dinner party and watched the host adroitly carve and slice the large turkey for his guests.
When he finished slicing, the host asked, “How did I do, Doc? I think I’d make a pretty good surgeon, don’t you?”
“Perhaps,” said the physician. “But anyone can take them apart. Now let’s see you put it back together again.”
Like surgery, some tasks require special talent, skill or training. There are those who have what it takes to work in an operating room. Others have the kind of aptitude needed to teach a class or repair an automobile, and still others can cook a delicious meal, play a musical instrument well enough that folks want to listen or solve difficult mathematical problems. Some people have a natural ability to relate to others, some people are imaginative problem-solvers, some people can organize almost anything and others possess the gift of empathy. I have yet to meet anyone who does not exhibit a unique talent or ability.
But Spanish cellist Pablo Casals said it well: “Don’t be vain because you happen to have talent. You are not responsible for that; it was not of your doing. What you do with your talent is what matters.”
And what's the best thing to do with talent and ability? Use it. Use it generously – even extravagantly. And use it for good.
Erma Bombeck was known for her humorous journalism. But she frequently seasoned her writing with pinches of wisdom. At the end of a newspaper column on March 10, 1987, Bombeck wrote these words:
“I always had a dream that when I am asked to give an accounting of my life to a higher court, it will go like this: ‘So, empty your pockets. What have you got left of your life? Any dreams that were unfulfilled? Any unused talent that we gave you when you were born that you still have left? Any unsaid compliments or bits of love that you haven’t spread around?
“And I will answer, ‘I’ve nothing to return. I spent everything you gave me. I’m as naked as the day I was born.’”
She would agree that what we do with what we're given is what matters.
My question is this: what would you find if you emptied your pockets today? Any unused talent? Is there anything inside that should be spent, shared or given away? When it comes to your time and resources are you living a life of extravagant generosity?
I'm going to mentally empty my pockets tonight at bedtime and see if I've been holding back. I think that's important. I want to make sure there is nothing left at the end of the day that could have been used. And then tomorrow I'll see what I can use up.
I can hardly think of a more worthwhile and joyous way to live.