No so
Off The Wall, September 16
, 2011

In between my sips of coffee and munching on my turkey bacon recently, I began to ponder over all the things persons do as a way of contributing to society, not to do so to draw attention to themselves, but to share a talent or gift God had given them.

I have often admired people who can sit down in front of their computer, and tell a story about a goings on or something that took place at a meeting or location in a matter of minutes. I may require the same length of content in three times the amount of time, maybe stumbling over grammar, punctuation or thinking about spelling errors.

Each Sunday, a pastor of a church stands up in front of a congregation and gives a homily or a sermon. If what he says is received by the congregation, do members say afterwards, “I really admire you for giving such a great message?” Don’t think so. A matter of fact, what I’ve heard in the past are comments such as “Great message,” “I’m going to take what you said to heart,” or “That was a wonderful sermon.” No where have I ever heard, “I am certainly going to admire you from now on for your homily, father.”

When a professor gets up in front of an English Literature class and wants his students to learn something, does he do so to be admired or share information that may be worthy of learning so the class can gain full knowledge of the material taught? Need I say, the instructions are presented so that the members may understand all that is taught so as to pass the tests and graduate from that class.

Do those who work for sanitation departments do their jobs to be admired, or perform their tasks to earn a living so that they can put food on their tables to feed the families?

Whether one believes that God exists or not, we all have talents. That’s fact. Some people perform them very easily, without ever thinking about it. Others have to receive supplemented education to better their abilities. In so doing, they are able to present whatever they do to the very best of their abilities. One may have musical abilities, playing the piano, trumpet or clarinet, but must have lessons to learn more before they can share with others the gift that they have received.

Things that are easy to understand for some are difficult to learn for others. When associates learn that I have a hard time learning electronics, understanding advanced mathematics or plastering a wall, it becomes self-understood that I wasn’t given the ability to grasp these tasks as easily as it would be for others. For those younger than me to tell me, “Oh, that’s easy,” infuriates me, because it’s not that way at all, at least for me. I was brought up in another generation where we didn’t have computers in the schools, not every Tom, Dick and Harry had cell phones, and doing photography required some doing, not just clicking a button.

One area resident inferred in a conversation that having a book signing for my recent publishing, “Off the Wall Favorites,” was a way of drawing attention to myself. I never thought of it in that context. To my way of thinking, many purchasers of books like to have signatures of authors inscribed in them. To the buyer, it is something special when authors note the receiver’s name along with the writer. It makes the book more special.

And by the way, as I have told many people already, a priest suggested I publish a collection of my writings. Maybe the thought may never have crossed my mind if he hadn’t stated, “Before you die, you have to put a collection of columns in a book.” Was the very act to draw attention to me? I hope not. More so, since God led me to write many of my columns, I give Him the glory and the honor.

I liked documentaries. I have read many church related editions in additions to some on other subjects. If Father Bernard Noble, OSB, wrote a book on Hebrews, and I got a wealth of information from what he wrote, would I be admiring him for writing the book or sharing with others what I had learned. I think the latter would be more appropriate.

If Chuck “Choo Choo” Williams wrote a book on trains and I gained info on railroads, would I be admiring him or his subject matter. I would be talking about the wood-fed engines that once existed years ago and not the author, however I may mention his name.

I hope I made my point clear. Talents are to be shared. It’s that simple.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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