Not too long ago I was watching the film "Every Little Step, " a documentary which traces the casting of the revival production of the Broadway hit, "A Chorus Line." Life imitates art which imitates life as we follow the stories of some of the 3000 dancers auditioning for a show about dancers auditioning for a show. During the grueling process (which takes over a year) we get to know some of the artists who are putting their lives on hold for this opportunity. At one point, one of the dancers states " I was made to dance. If I can't dance, it's as if my life isn't meaningful."
While I could in one way resonate with that comment, I found it sad to think that someone might allow their value to be defined by something beyond their control. Especially for dancers in New York, the odds of getting a job are astronomical.
Why would God give us gifts if we can't use them? Why make dancers and then not the opportunities to dance? I wonder if part of the issue is that we limit ourselves by defining when and where we will use our gifts. There's a phrase my husband introduced me to several months ago - "a zero sum game." If I adhere to this philosophy, I buy into the belief that there's only so much to go around. I need to make sure I get mine, and if that means there's not any left for you, oh well. It promotes unhealthy competition, greed, and panic. If I believe that the only place for me to be successful is in this situation or with these people and that doesn't happen, I'm left with no choice to conclude that I'm a loser.
In the practical philosophy model I'm exploring, the goal of life is described by the phrase "Creative Community-Quality Life for Everyone." In Creative Community, there is room for everyone to do what they are called to do. It requires the community not only to be generous, but also creative. Are there dancers? It's the calling of the community to develop an appreciation for (or at least value) dance, to provide the opportunities for dance, and be the audience for the dance. It's the calling of the dancer to work hard at their gift and be open to using it wherever the opportunity presents itself.
A few years ago, Oprah had a show where she was giving away free cars to well-deserving people. At the end of the show, as she unveils the gift to the surprised guest, she suddenly turns to the audience and says, 'Everybody gets a car! Everybody gets a car!' There's a moment of stunned disbelief, then the shock turns to joy and the audience erupts into cheers.
Everyone has a gift. It's up to us all to make sure they're not wasted.