Friday, November 03, 2006

The Joy of Giving

It is important to savor the small moments in life. Those times when we truly feel satisfied. It helps us to feel validated as humans. For years I was a docent (speaker) for Lyric Opera of Chicago. As such, I would go around the greater metropolitan area of Chicago and had the extreme joy of telling the stories of the Operas of the season while playing excerpts of the music the audience would hear.

It was an extraordinary 15 years of my life. As much as I thought I knew about Opera, when I was doing the research on the Operas being performed that year, I always learned something new. My greatest joy came from teaching the children through a program called "Opera in the Classroom". We would go in to classes from 2nd to 6th grade.

One week at a time with various teaching tools that allowed them to hear the sounds of Opera. The last 2 weeks of the 4 week program involved the telling the story of an Opera while playing short excerpts of the music. The following week the children would dress in costumes (generally things we found at the Salvation Army, Husband's old shirts and ties, Skirts and bonnets for the girls. As well as all the accessories needed. Fans, muffs, swords (play of course) guns ( plastic) and whatever props were necessary for the performance.

Frequently, the Principal of the school would make it an event that the entire school would get to see in the form of an assembly. It was the most wonderful thing I have ever done with time next to raising my children and running a very successful business. For many years, after I retired from the program, because my business grew so rapidly, I would see these young people who were now grown.

They would run into me in airports around the world, restaurants or at trade shows. The immediate response was, "do you remember me"? You came to my 3rd grade class, or 4th or 5th, etc., and taught so much about the Opera that I am now a season ticket holder.

At the end of each class there was "immediate gratification". However, years later when I would see these young people and know that they were enjoying something so wonderful because of the few hours I donated a week to teaching them, that was "everlasting gratification".

It seems the most wonderful times we have in life in when we are giving of ourselves. We receive so much more back in return.


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