“I am not only witty in myself, but the cause that wit is in other men.“
– Falstaff from Henry IV – Shakespeare
It takes 2 to tango, as they say. We humans are social animals and we need the presence of others to create better, more fun versions of ourselves.
Like the swordsman Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride bringing shy smiles and humor from the giant Fezzik by offering simple rhyming prompts, Falstaff claimed his doctor’s humorous and mocking message about Falstaff’s urine sample was evidence he could not only make others laugh, but his approach to it brought that gift out in others as well. I don’t know the play Henry IV well enough to say if Falstaff could do that or not, but that’s a pretty cool gift to give!
We need interactions with other people to feel connected. But, the love of laughter aside, we also need interactions with other people to have opportunities to become better versions of ourselves. This is why so many business gurus encourage their readers to find a mentor, and why great teachers like my wife Jill, my mom and my dad’s mom have such a beloved place in others’ lives.
While we can’t all be an infectious wit or a great teacher or a business mentor, giving of ourselves to others is always a possibility. Whether it’s your time, a simple kindness, an artistic endeavor, or working to create a product that solves problems for other people, giving of ourselves is a gift we all possess and can pass on to others (“pay it forward,” anyone?).
— a related aside —
Along the theme of giving of ourselves to others, my first writing prompt this morning was, “Are you an organ donor? Why?”
In addition to our need to interact with others for both giving and receiving gifts of time, humor, love and personal growth, through being an organ donor, we literally have the ability to offer the gift of life – or at least a much better life.
If I’m only alive because I’m on life support, organ donation is a gift that I can give and want to give. People naturally fear the unknown: death, the dark, and leaps of faith of all kinds. Like our need to give and receive gifts when we interact with others, facing one’s fears is another way we may all grow.
Personally, I want to live to a ripe old age that makes organ donation a non-issue. Who wants a 90-year-old liver? But if I do go before my time, it gives me some comfort to think that a part of me could live on in someone else, and possibly help them to live their own life to a ripe old age.
With that PSA done, I’ll wrap it up.
We grow through interactions with each other and the receiving and giving of gifts. Gifts aren’t just bought items wrapped with a bow and given for special occasions, and they are literally meaningless without someone to receive them. Give of yourself to someone, and you’ve enriched both of your lives.
What can you give to enrich your life and the lives of others?