Author: Compton, Cliff

Using the Gift

I was fourteen in Kansas City Missouri, living in a three story stone house off of Van Brunt and St. John, and Iíd just bought my harmony arched topped guitar from a pawnshop downtown. Our house was bigger than we needed, and we didnít have much money, so my dad rented out the second and third floor of the house. One of his tenants was a newly married marine who had just been released from his service. He played the guitar. He kinda took me under his wing, sort of a big brother thing, taught me how to shoot pool, and a few other things my daddy wouldnít have approved of. But the biggest thing he did for me was to show me how to play that harmony guitar. I never had a brother, so I guess everything he showed me was amplified in importance in my eyes. Looking back, I donít know if he was any good or not, but I do know that he was better than me, and he taught me what he knew.

My guess is, that he had no idea at the time, how important that was to me, how he literally shaped my future by spending that little bit of time showing me those simple chords and that boogie woogie bass progression.

I guess Iíve passed it on as time has continued. Teaching what Iíve learned, learning as Iíve taught, always mindful that weíve each been given gifts from the creator and from good hearted fellow pilgrims that have enriched us and altered the course of the river of our lives.

When I was in my middle thirties, I was involved in a church start up in Sacramento. The church had no music program. The church had a large Romanian population. Big Families. Lots of small children. Little money.

We would go to the pawn shops, buy instruments, (kind of like the CBAís music instrument lending program. give them to the kids, assign them to an older kid and give them lessons. The older kids would learn as they taught the younger kids. When the younger kids became proficient, we gave them pupils of their own. They progressed. Today, twenty-five years later. That church has an orchestra full of accomplished musicians. A couple of weeks ago, I was playing an upright bass in that orchestra, thinking how blessed I was to have helped them become what I was hearing.

We all have our gifts. I assume we ainít keeping them wrapped up and out of sight. They might have been given to us for a reason. What you do with your gift is your business, but I reckon somewhere thereís a kid that might benefit from what youíve been given. You canít take it with you when you die. Who knows, maybe you might alter the course of somebodyís life. Maybe make their walk a little easier. Spread a little of the joy.

See you at Colusa! Keep Pickiní.

Posted:  10/9/2009

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