Deepak Chopra says in his book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, "You have a unique talent and a unique way of expressing it. There is something that you can do better than anyone else in the whole world." I think often when disease becomes a part of our lives and puts limits on us that we have never experienced, we think that we no longer have gifts or unique talents to share with this world any longer. I think this may come from our bodies suddenly changing in ways that scare us and limiting us from continuing down a path that is familiar. However, I firmly believe that despite of, and often because of disease, the gifts that we have to give this world are quite amazing.
In September I welcomed a new group of adult ESL (English as a Second Language....sometimes a third or fourth language) students to my classroom. One of my new students, Rosy, shared with me early on that she suffers from depression, diabetes, and heart disease. I was shocked. How could this woman that lights up the room the moment she walks in have depression? Each and every class session, I sit in amazement at the gifts she has to give her classmates and me. As the self titled "teacher assistant" Rosy spends a lot of time patiently helping all the students around her. She sincerely wants them to be proficient English speakers. She also organizes the supplies for break time, making sure everyone in the class contributes by bringing supplies for coffee, tea, and treats.
Although Rosy suffers from depression, diabetes, heart disease, and a life full of doctor's appointments not only for herself but for her 16 year old special needs son, Rosy has recognized the special gifts she has to share with this world and she uses them often. One of the writing questions my students were to answer the day before Thanksgiving break was how they felt that morning. Rosy's response was answered in how she had served other people, her individual gift to this world. She was happy because she woke up at 5:30 in the morning to prepare a Thanksgiving meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce for the class. (She was only supposed to bring one thing for the potluck but wanted her peers to experience the traditional Thanksgiving foods of the United States.)
What I have noticed about Rosy is that she is fully aware of her limitations, but more importantly she is aware of her unique gifts and talents. After applauding her for a job well done in planning our feast, she said, "I am very good at planning parties." Yes, she is. Rosy knows that despite her depression, she can find moments of peace and happiness when she allows herself to share her individual talents.
Many of us this Thanksgiving may be struggling to focus on what we are thankful for as our lives have been turned upside down by disease. However, please know that you are still here for a very special reason. You have "something that you can do better than anyone else in the whole world." That something may have changed now that disease is a part of your life, yet the gifts you have to give this world are still strong and still needed.