Thursday, December 24, 2015

Gift Givings


“I put some tunes on here for you,” he said, casually handing over the equivalent of a silver USB thumb drive, shorter than my pinky-finger, thinner than a pencil. “You listen to it through these mini-earphones.” So, although I was not used to earphones nor accustomed to playing music for myself anywhere other than in my home, I sometimes listened to it. And yes, I was grateful. After all, it came from him. And he’s very special to me. And the thing itself is lovely with its apple logo embedded in it. But I did not know the names of the musicians, did not recognize the songs, and could not ever access the stick to get a list or see the record album covers. So…

Nearly four years later another friend, conversant with the Apple brand products, at last took those tunes off that stick and integrated them on iTunes with my Personal Computer. Oh my! The album covers! The images. The names of the singers! The lists of songs. Apart from the raunchy Koos Kombuis, I knew none. And now, especially with the artwork of the album covers to guide me, I have a real treasure indeed. Now, what I'm about to type may not resonate with you at all, unless you've heard or know of or even like these artists: Animals. Jimmy Barnes. Ian Moss. Cold Chisel. Mango Groove. Koos Kombuis. Devo. Die Grafsteensangers. Zz Top. Angels. First Aid Kit. Hunters and Collectors. The Black Sorrows. Hocus Pocus. AC/DC. Australian Crawl. Page and Plant, and FOCUS.

Thing is, the treasure for the receiver is in the appreciation. The treasure is in the growth one may have by listening to phrases and learning snippets of songs, the ongoing guessing of fragments left by poets and troubadours, the inherited wisdom laid down in grooves and in tapes and in digitized bites of sense and sound. And my old friend has never received a word of just how much I value that collection, until now. He gave it to me. And he got little back. Surely though, I said, “Thank you.”

“Thank you,” was all that I recall receiving when I once gave a teenager her 16th birthday car. I'd put a new windscreen in the vehicle, and ensured that the four year old silver Toyota was gleaming and new-ish and that there was even a bow attached atop it. “Thanks,” she said. It taught me the lesson of gift-giving. We give a gift to the other for them to do whatever they want with it. It is theirs to re-gift. It is theirs. And if one has an ulterior motive for giving (such as I did at that time, since the car would free the teenager’s mother to spend more time with me) then be certain that you wanted to give the gift in the first place. “Thank you,” is all that one might expect.

That exact phrase was delivered most succinctly by another very good old friend, my age, at a magnificent dinner prepared for a group of us. We sat around the spread and each was invited to say something to our hosts, and while some of us gave a sentence or two (or more) in response (what, me?) this friend looked directly at them, raised his glass, and said, “Thank you”. Heartfelt, sincere, authentic, it was all that was necessary. And yes, it would have sufficed even without the rest of our jabbering.

We give gifts out of our wish to give pleasure to the other.

Still, I hope my friend who gave me the silver-stick might get to read this, and thereby see how very much I do appreciate those tunes, now, especially that I know something about all those new artists. (Ian Moss and his Six Strings album! Wow.) So very much to appreciate. Thanks!


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