It took me over 60 years to understand the life in that building and the conversations I heard through the airshaft window molded that little girl to the person I now have become. There were absolutely NO SECRETS among the 6 families that shared that airshaft. I witnessed laughter, arguments, music, television shows and yes, the wonderful smells of butter cookies. Every family had gifts and they had no idea they were sharing them with us all.
I always loved to make people laugh, including the neighbors that heard me from the airshaft. I have often said I do not do sad well. Now, that does not mean I do not get sad or upset for of course I do. I somehow try to figure out ways to find a happy ending. I try during a hard time to create something funny to remember. Why focus on the sad cries when there was so much life happening through the window to remember right?
For most of my life my mother could not understand why I had to always be this way and prayed I would one day become more serious. What she did not understand was despite the silliness I learned compassion through that airshaft that scary night. I learned it was OK to balance happy and sad.
I had to dig deep into my inner airshaft when our niece passed away last year. After the sadness of initially walking into the funeral home and everyone in the crowded chapel had paid their respects, I saw the kneeler was empty so I went back to chat with her. My niece loved hair, and makeup and was very serious about her color selections but funeral homes understandably have conservative colors and Megan was far from that. I said "Oh Megan, you are probably so upset with us right now honey. I promise you we had no control of that coral nail polish and lipstick." All of a sudden I heard laughter and two of Megan's friends from work were behind me and they both hysterically agreed with me stating "they were thinking the exact same thing". Honestly, I believe the entire room was thinking this as well but were too afraid to say it.
It is easy to become bitter with life and focus on the the hurtful and wrong in painful situations but training my heart to be cheerful has aided me many times in my life. Broken and hurting hearts affect how we think. Believe me, at the same time I also understand certain gifts are easier to some people than others and not everyone can find the funny line in the dark situation like I can. As I get older I am learning it is unfair to me to not be ME! So many keep their gifts and stories inside. When we can share our gifts and feelings in a crowded room there may be just one person that feels the same way. Just as I shared my gifts others in the room shared theirs with me.
I respect the teachings of my mom that there is a time and place for everything and I will admit it took lots of trial and error to figure out when to correctly use what I used to call the "silliness curse. " As my years are going by faster and faster I now feel it was the gift I was born with and it is who I am.
Are you holding back sharing the gifts inside of yourself for fear of what others will think of you?
To quote Abraham Lincoln, "In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years"!
We grow old when we stop playing. We grow old when we stop laughing. We need each other's help more now than ever before my friends! Each of us has an airshaft of memories, thoughts, feelings, conversations inside of us but I was lucky to experience the real thing. Sadly it took me all my life to finally feel free enough to feel comfortable being myself. I am slowly letting my gift out and not feeling scared to say it is OK to be joyful in all the noise of life.
Focusing on the memory of delicious butter cookies versus tears has worked for me and I vow each day to continue to use the gift I was given to make people laugh.
Everyone of us has gifts we were born with. Whether it is art, music, writing, laughter, my hope is that you open the window and not feel guilty to share it! Holding on to your special gift is unfair to yourself and all those friends you made in the airshaft of life.
It took me a lifetime to fully realize all the lessons I learned through that silly airshaft. Compassion, love, understanding, laughter and the realization we are all more alike than we ever think we are. The best lesson of all was life is to be lived and when we share all our different gifts together we end up with HAPPY ENDINGS!