I didn't stay up long enough to see it in real time, but I've since seen video clips of pop singer Mariah Carey's disastrous New Year's Eve performance on "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve." Flubbed cues. An apparent equipment malfunction. A loudly playing track of Carey singing her high notes while she was very clearly not actually singing. Finally, she walked off the stage, abruptly unwilling to work under such conditions. A short time later, she took to Twitter in order to offer blame.
It was really something.
Our daughter Grace's guitar teacher said she was at a New Year's Eve party with a large group of musicians—session musicians who play rhythm guitar all but anonymously on recordings with famous people, piano bar guys who knew Billy Joel way back when, folks who have played for spare change on the Shuttle between Times Square and 42nd Street. They had the show on in the background with the sound off, until someone looked over and said, "Uh…oh" and they all turned to watch the agony unfold.
"Well," I said, "it has to be hard to be on that big a stage—I mean 'New Year's Eve,' 'Times Square'…'right before midnight,' and all that…"
Eve shook her head. "Yeah… but no. Not really," she said. "We talked about it after it happened. And the thing is: you've been given a gift. Your job is to share it. Whether there's one person or millions of people. And the other thing is: malfunctions happen all the time… you can't let that get in the way. It isn't the sound guy's fault if you can't entertain. You find a way."
I'm not a musician, and I've never been on live t.v., so it's probably not my place to say.
But I do think that we've all been given gifts, and that God's expectation is that we will find a way to share them. God's vision for human life is fundamentally interdependent — that we need one another not simply to survive, but also to become what we're meant to become. Ironically, we can't grow into well-made individuals without community to nurture and sustain us — without the gifts of many helping us all the time.
It is also true that malfunctions happen all the time. The neighbor who cuts our hedge the way he likes it. The sister who takes what she can rather than her proper portion. The supervisor who never sees our real value.
One could spend a long time waiting for optimal conditions to appear for the stunning debut of one's gifts.
Or instead, one can decide to find a way, remembering that sharing them is the point, and that the true impact is not really ours to measure.
What are the gifts that you and I might share with someone else? What's stopping us?
As a new year begins, we are invited to take the stage and show, not just our gifts, but on a more fundamental level, what we're made of.
May it prove to be a blessing.
This article originally appears in the Greenwich Sentinel on January 6. It is reprinted with the author's permission.
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