Funny how those times come along when we aren’t even pondering something, then magically the answer appears. A fleeting comment, and I understood so much more. I wasn’t a failure, and I didn’t totally suck. I wasn’t incompetent or naïve. I wasn’t even foolish. But the moment was bittersweet. “I have an uncommon gift. Not everyone sees things the way I do. Perfect. I’m weird.” I felt completely out of place.
Every fall, Santa Feans flock to the mountain to witness the changing of the aspens. It is a spectacular event, and one that I had missed. The highlight of everyone’s year, and I was too out of touch to notice. Everyone talked about how amazing this year was, and there I sat feeling even more out of place. But autumn had not completely passed in the lower elevations, so I decided to go for “second best” — cottonwoods on the outskirts of town.
Massive, twisted trunks rising to towering heights topped with shimmering gold. That is what I found. Dare I say, the cottonwoods gave the aspens a bit of competition? Those who visited the mountain weeks before did not know what they were missing, and I had this little wonderland all to myself. I wandered along the trails studying the vegetation and wondering what type of avi-fauna would arrive in the spring. It was the best I could do to find some level of interest this late in the year. I stumbled upon a small pond covered in thin sludge completely void of any reflections. Once again, bad timing. The sun was too high in the sky, and ripples scattered across the surface the surface. “Not even a duck.” A brilliant cottonwood shaking its leaves in the breeze caught my eye, and I thought to myself, “What are you so happy about?” I decided to make myself comfortable, and sat down on the tiny pier. At least I was outside. It was only then that I realized why that cottonwood was so excited. Somehow, even in the late hour and moving air, that little cottonwood was reflected in the water. Very uncommon because the conditions were just not right. He was gazing into a mirror, and admiring its new autumn garb, dancing about with unfettered jubilation. The pond sludge even played a role in the artistic creation by appearing as stars surrounding the joyous little tree. I giggled quietly at the spectacle, and nature whispered to me, “You find beauty in ordinary things. Appreciate this gift.”
That day nature not only made me giggle, but she also helped me realize that my gift is not a curse. I have a talent that allows me to find a way, no matter the circumstances. To balance shortcomings with strengths. To use my skills and resources to achieve far more than I ever imagined. Seeing the world in a new way is a unique gift that not everyone shares. What is common to us is uncommon to others, yet we must first appreciate and celebrate what sets us apart from the world. Only then can we bring joy to those who cross our paths and make the world a better place.
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