“The Gift of Being Human,” June 30, 2015

We all have a gift. We don’t go around bragging about it, unless it’s a gift for making people hate us. But we all do something a little better than most anyone else we know.

What about you? What’s your gift? What’s the thing you do that makes people smile and shake their heads in wonder?

Artists and athletes are often gifted at things the rest of us could never do. I, for instance, am pretty sure I’ll never paint like Monet or pole vault. But most people’s gifts are much less obvious. They simply help, or encourage or just do the right thing. And whatever would we do without them?

My family is gifted in unusual ways. My mother could open an empty cupboard and make a meal from nothing to feed us.

My nephew can lie on a dock, reach down with a bare hand and snatch a fish clean out of the water. I’ve seen him do it.

My grandmother could talk and dip snuff all at once and never let it run down her chin.

My husband plays the bass like nobody’s business and makes me laugh without even trying.

Then there are my kids and grandkids and so many loved ones. Talk about gifted.

I wish you could see them.

Being surrounded by so much talent used to make me feel a little unnecessary. Then one day it dawned on me. I, too, am gifted. I have a God-given talent for two closely related skills: Asking questions and sounding dumb.

I wish you could hear me.

In school I asked questions even if I knew the answers, because some of my classmates (never mind who) didn’t have a clue and were too shy or embarrassed to ask.

I have never been too shy or embarrassed to ask anybody anything. Or to admit I don’t know what I don’t know. They are fine gifts for a journalist, or a mother, and useful in all sorts of ways.

This morning, when I logged on as usual to my website (www.sharonrandall.com ), I found an ominous-looking “adminstrative” message informing me I needed to take immediate action or something really bad would happen.

I had absolutely no clue about what to fix, how to fix it or what would happen if I didn’t.

So I did what I do best: Asked questions and sounded dumb. But first, I had to begin by talking to a computer.

I don’t like talking to a computer. It doesn’t care how dumb you sound. It has no heart, no soul, no pity. It wouldn’t even let me ask my own questions. Instead, it referred me to a long list of Frequently Asked Questions from other computerphobes, all equally or more clueless than I was.

Finally, before I pulled out the last of my hair, I found _ yes! _ a phone number. And that is how I met my new best friend, Blake, a young man divinely blessed with the gift of being human.

“How can I help you?” he asked. I wanted to kiss him.

“Blake,” I said, “I just got a message that says I have to fix something, but I don’t know what to fix or how to do it or what will happen if I don’t.”

He laughed. “No problem. I just need your password.”

Not the password I use for the website. A different one. I’ve got passwords for all sorts of things. I never remember any of them.

“Blake?” I said. “I don’t know.”

In the next 20 minutes, I said “I don’t know” to pretty much everything he asked. But Blake, bless him, reached through the phone to hold my hand and dragged me along step by step until _ hallelujah! _ we fixed it.

I don’t know what we fixed, how we did it or what would have happened if we did not.

But I know this: There is no finer gift than being human. Unless it’s getting to talk to one when you really need help.

If you think you aren’t gifted, think again. There is something you alone can offer the world. Who knows who might need it?

I hope Heaven’s Hotline is staffed by a human. I’ll probably need a password to get in.


  1. Naomi Durant says

    I got that email, also, and my first thought was that it was a scam to get information, such as a password. I always delete those emails right away. I hope that wasn’t the case with your Administration email alert, that it was just an attempt to get your password information, which you did end up giving them. I’m always assuming any mysterious emails are scams, and I do checks on them before giving them any information.

  2. Clarence Vold says

    You also have the talent of providing encouragement to your readers and help to your friends. I have learned more about dementia than I ever cared to know in the past year or so with my adult/child demanding wife. I hope you don’t mind, but I am borrowing a little of your kindness and compassion. Thank you.

  3. Sharon,
    I believe humble people have a special entrance to heaven, so you won’t need a password. Sharing your great gift of writing so personally, so richly, so wonderfully with all these good folks week after week is your entry ticket. Just don’t lose it.

  4. Trudy Myers says

    I too ask questions when I know the answer for the same reason. I’m so glad to know I’m not alone. For a while I thought it ridiculous but I remember math class and wishing so much I knew which questions to ask that would unravel this mysterious language. Hope we helped a few others along this journey.

  5. Rhonda Nichols says

    Sharon–You can write ordinary stuff that people want to read. (That is a gift).

  6. Linda Stowell says

    I love your column. I have followed it through the death of your first husband, your re-marriage, and now grandchildren. I am in my summer home and receive it in the Finger Lakes Times in Geneva, NY. In the other eight months I am in Florida and do not receive it in the News press, although I have tried. Now I have your website so will read you there. Thank heavens!

  7. Christine A Timchek says

    I had a friend who could touch her elbows together behind her back, and one who was double jointed…talents I greatly admired. She could bend her thumb back to here…but the best friend I ever had could make me breathe deeply, calm down, and remember how to FIX my computer. I soooo know where you are coming from.

  8. Hi Sharon, I love your column! You are a great writer!
    Cousin Nickie

    • Sharon Randall says

      Thanks, cousin, so great to hear from you! Love to you and your beautiful growing family!
      As ever,
      Your cousin

  9. Thank you for the reminder. Thank you for sharing your gift of writing.

  10. Again again you did it again like a gifted writer Sharon for all your columns … They inspire us just now ,we must read … whatever you write no matter what? as we cannot hold on to read it tomorrow .Yes ,every one is gifted in one way or other . As I was a teacher just like other gifted teachers who can inspire by good teaching method . I was amazed to see grades of my students as they were more gifted than me . God bless them all ! But they remember me that at least I inspired them .Thank u for all gifts you give each week with gifted writing skill .

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