Thank You for Teaching Me to Dream.
March 16, 2014
I was listening the other day to the acceptance speech of Jared Leto who had been awarded best supporting actor for his role in Dallas Buyers Club, an extraordinary movie which took 20 years of sustained effort to surface in mainstream theaters. The movie could support a blog of its own with its tribute to the kindness and inventiveness of the human spirit when asked to rise above the petty. But where my mind gave pause was in another part of the speech. It marveled at the affective power which resides in the words: thank you, for Hollywood actors are full of such on Oscar Night.
The thank you that we hear all the time is not what I’m talking about, however. That thank you we’re taught to say in gratitude, softens the edges of a rather rough world, but in truth we don’t owe to anyone or anything, not when we understand our true nature. Rather the power of thank you as I see it lies elsewhere. The only gift that is truly ours to give is the one that says in deed, and sometimes word: at the heart of things you and I are one and the same. Jared realized he’d received such a gift and thanked his mother, the pregnant high school drop-out of years past, not for his physical life but for the gift of truth she’d given him. His gift took this form:
“Thank you for teaching me to dream.”
That took me back in my own life, to a mother, the next to last born in a family of 14 kids whose own mother ran off and left the last two children to grow up thinking of themselves as somehow responsible for their mother’s traumatizing choice. But mum took the opportunities that came her way and to her female child, growing up in the ‘50s no less, she said, “Christina, you can be anything you want to be.” That was not premeditated, nor planned, and it was definitely NOT something commonly heard by young girls in the 1950s. Betty Crocker owned the day, and girls wore skirts or dresses, and on Sundays, gloves and veiled hats. But I heard a woman say that to me when she shared this deep knowing of her heart and gifted me with that monumental truth. I don’t know if she even recalled herself saying it, and it never came up again. But the deed was done, and it changed the course of my life.
The most precious gifts are not those you can touch with your hands. Rather they are wisdom shared. They are truths modeled; the speaking of them merely helps us notice. They are infused with acceptance, honor, passion, honesty, vision, vitality. They are gifts of great value. When people turn to you and say thank you for these, they are actually saying thank you for giving me that one thing that truly made a difference to my life.
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