- On December 29, 2016
Sometimes I struggle to find the ‘perfect’ gift for someone. Yes, it is ‘the thought’ that counts, not what’s in the box.
Still…don’t we all want to be the giver who brings a gleeful smile and wide-eyed amazement to someone’s face?
I am the recipient of such a gift.
An unexpected package arrived in the mail a few weeks ago. Carefully wrapped inside was a small tin Kaleidoscope.
I’m sure my friend who sent this had no idea the huge impact a small child’s toy would have on me.
Time warp back a few decades to St. Casmir’s grammar school in Yonkers New York.
Each year the school held an annual Christmas bazaar with handicrafts and other small items that we kids could purchase as Christmas gifts. I was in 1st or 2nd grade at the time. My mom had given me $2 to spend at the bazaar, which seemed like a lot of money in those days.
I can still clearly see the school gym in my mind, decorated for Christmas, crammed with booths overflowing with hand-made food items and handicrafts. I can smell popcorn in the air and carols playing on the PA system.
I made my way up and down the aisles and finally wandered past the booth at the back left of the gym near the window. That’s where I spotted it–the kaleidoscope.
I was fascinated and wanted it more than anything. I went back to that booth with the kaleidoscope a half dozen times, fascinated by the delightful patterns it made when held up to the light. It cost $2.
Do I spend my precious money on something I really wanted or buy a gift for someone else? I agonized over that decision.
I was running out of time. Our class only had one hour at the bazaar and time was almost up. Some of my classmates were already in line by the door clutching the purchases they had made.
I had to make a choice.
I bought gifts for my mother and grandmother. Floral-smelling soap or a crocheted hot pad; I don’t remember what.
I told myself I would save my money and buy the kaleidoscope next year. When the bazaar came the next Christmas, the booth with the kaleidoscope wasn’t there. I was heartbroken.
So when I opened the box last week, it was a magical gift sent through time.
As I spun the colored stones around into different patterns, I had this massive “Aha!” moment.
The kaleidoscope is much more than a childhood delight—it is the key to living my life!
I’ve felt frustrated for so many months, trying to figure how to integrate my many passions–coaching, leadership, team performance, neuroscience, travel, cooking, technology, the environment, veterans, fitness, learning—into one mission that fits cleanly together.
My “Aha” as I looked through the kaleidoscope? Maybe they don’t need to fit cleanly together. Maybe they are like the kaleidoscope—different colors that sometimes come together and sometimes don’t.
The little tin kaleidoscope was a reminder for me to be present to the now. That the true delight in life comes not from forcing things to fit together, but from being open to whatever pattern shows up before me.
What gift has brought glee, amazement, and unexpected insight to your life?