A colleague at work is a talented musician. He’s been playing the guitar since junior high school. As you’d expect with young teenagers who played instruments, he and his friends started a band. Of course they had dreams of becoming the Next Big Thing and were sure one day they’d appear on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
They landed a few gigs, mostly playing at the backyard events of neighbors and family, but their band never did take off. Soon college beckoned and the band members went their separate ways. My friend and one of his buddies continued playing for pleasure, though. And when they settled, they realized they didn’t live too far apart. Several times during the year they’d get together and, of course, they’d jam–my friend on guitar and his buddy on percussion.
My friend didn’t think much of his love of playing the guitar. He never saw it as a gift or as something special because he wasn’t making any money, much less a living, from his music and he’d never won any awards or received any kind of recognition for his guitar playing.
One day recently, my friend received a phone call. His childhood buddy and band mate–the one he would jam with every once in a while–was on his deathbed. His buddy had a rare degenerative disease and his daughter was calling my friend to tell him that his buddy didn’t have long to live–a day or two at best. My friend grabbed his guitar and went to his buddy’s side.
By the time my friend got to the bedside, his buddy wasn’t very responsive. My friend was at a loss for words so instead he sat by the bed and played for his buddy. He played songs from back when they had the band in junior high; he played songs they had written together, he played a few popular songs, and he played songs that were his and his buddy’s favorites–ones they’d always included in the jam sessions.
At one point, my friend looked up and saw that his buddy’s lips were curved in a faint smile. My friend had been teary eyed before but when he saw his buddy’s smile, the tears flowed freely. He found a way to continue playing his buddy’s favorite songs, though, and shortly thereafter, his buddy passed.
Afterward, his buddy’s daughter gave him a warm hug and whispered that his playing “…was the perfect send-off for Daddy. I know he loved it.”
That experience changed my friend. He is no longer flippant and cavalier about his talent for playing the guitar. Instead, he knows he’s very lucky to have his gifts. He’s grateful for the privilege of using them to bring comfort, ease, and a smile to others.
How about you? How are you using your gifts and talents to bring peace, well-being, and cheer to others?
Your Friend and Pep Pal,