Tis the season for gift giving. While most of us enjoy receiving gifts, there is nothing quite like giving a gift to others and watching them light up with delight.
The type of gift I want to share with you today is not necessarily the kind you wrap and place under the tree. This gift is the one you first unwrap from within and must own in order to give away.
For my 2010 birthday wish, I wanted to meet Zenyatta. She had already won 19 straight races, and she was now preparing for her 20th and final race.
Being an actor, I never thought of celebrities as being any better than my lesser known but equally talented, fellow creative professionals. In the realm of horses, Zenyatta was different.
Zenyatta transcended not only her species but also the profession by which she had established a second-to-none legacy. I had to meet her.
Through a group of close friends I knew from the racing world, a visit with Zenyatta was arranged. I understood going in this was a gift like no other. I had no idea, though, that another, much more profound gift was awaiting me.
In the early morning, we arrived at Zenyatta’s barn. She was in her stall with her head out, awaiting her trainer, John Shireffs, to start her morning workout routine.
I walked over to her.
Here was Zenyatta, one of the largest and most physically imposing horses to ever race, looking down at me. Without even thinking whether she would understand, I said to her, “Zenyatta, I have always wanted to meet you and I am so excited to be here with you.”
She liked this, and I had her full attention now.
With the regal tilt to her head and brilliant attentive gaze, her magnificent presence was focused on my face. Zenyatta’s truth is simple, and her gifts are readily seen and experienced. But there is much more to her than what our eyes can see.
I felt this magical connection between us in an undeniable way.
I continued with an equal dose of enthusiasm and genuine gratitude, “Zenyatta, I want to ask you a question. I am an actor, and I would psych myself out long before I ever booked 19 jobs in a row. How did you win 19 consecutive races?”
The mood shifted between us.
She looked at me with bemused disdain and said, “What is it with you humans, you make everything so complicated? Why wouldn’t I win every race? This is who I am, and this is what I do.”
I know it seems hard to believe, but Zenyatta did look into my face and say this. I could never make something like that up. And the way she communicated to me is not even how I think or speak.
I do want to be clear I am no horse whisperer. Zenyatta did not open her mouth and speak as you or I would. It was a language of the mind, of the heart. Some describe it as a form of telepathy.
It is when you tap into the thought waves of another living being and intuitively connect on a level that words could not aptly describe. I have never had an experience like that before, nor have I had one since. Beyond the connection we had is the profound, transformative gift Zenyatta bestowed onto me that day.
Yes, Zenyatta is a racehorse, I am an actor and author, these are the gifts we share with the world. But what is a gift if it is not unconditionally accepted from within and shared externally with others?
Accepting your gift is about first knowing who your true authentic self is. This is what struck me about Zenyatta.
There was no doubt or overthinking in anything Zenyatta did. There was no shrinking from the moment or playing small. She carried herself with a sense of uncompromising purpose and pure confidence born of a present-minded ownership of the moment.
Everyone has a unique gift to offer the world.
When you reject your gift, you reject your true self. By owning your gift, and having complete trust in your purpose, you remove any lingering thoughts about not being enough just the way you are.
Once you own your gift in this manner, there is no room for limited thinking. You can give away your gift for others to enjoy without feeling as if you are losing something of yourself or being burdened with unrealistic demands for what you want in return.
Now, before I engage in any creative, collaborative endeavor I say to myself:
I am here to share my authentic gifts and contribute to the vision of the project. This is who I am, and this is what I do.
I invite you to journal your answers to the following questions:
In the comments below, I invite you to share your personal experiences with how you have come to recognize, own, and share your gifts with the world.