The shared gift
Friday, December 28, 2018 at 8:10AM
Scott A. Stultz

More than three centuries ago, George Berkeley, an Anglican cleric and writer, posed the provocative question, "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" The question has vexed philosophers, scientists, and us common pilgrims ever since.

Earlier this dark, rainy morning, three days after our modest Christmas observance, I was standing in the kitchen pressing a pot of coffee and thinking about the extraordinary writing of Anthony Doerr. A copy of his first published book from 2002, a collection of eight sparkling short stories, was my daughter Nora's gift to me. Inspired and humbled after reading two of them yesterday, I was reminded of the author Stephen King's frequent words to his millions of fans, each of whom he has addressed with gratitude as "constant reader". I mused about my own struggle to reconcile with a desire to be appreciated for my work as a designer, how I've angrily dismissed it as the weakness of a needy ego. Then I considered the giver and the receiver of a gift. Is one even relevant without the other?

I don't know. What occurs to me, though is this: we crave connection. A work of art may mean something to the maker, but without a recipient, it is inert. Only when accepted and assimilated can it become a living creation. And when it's appreciated, the artist is validated. Sharing is an essential part of having a full life, and we all need it to declare our humanity. It is as important to be part of an appreciative audience as it is to offer what we can do.

the gift, 11-1/2" x 8-1/2" fountain pen and ink on paper

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