The other day my wife opened the front door and walked outside, only to see a dead bunny rabbit at the doorstep with its entrails flopped out on the stoop like a bunch of cooked spaghetti noodles sprawling crazily out of a burst bag. The kill was credited to our wonderful cat Squints, who like other cats, considered this carcass a gift to his owners.
Not a few days later I was trying to sleep in and I heard the sounds of the same cat playing with what sounds to be one of his many toys. Usually it's "Mr. Bee" because that seems to be his favourite. But then, I heard a crunching noise that is uncharacteristic of the toys he normally plays with, so I reluctantly get out of bed to investigate. Indeed, it's not Mr. Bee, but rather a lone bird wing with protruding vertebrae and splashes of blood. Squints is munching on it and looks up with what I imagine must be a cat's grin. Again, it's a gift from cat to owner because he stops munching on it and nudges it toward my bare feet.
Then a few nights afternthat second gift, I'm reading by myself when I hear screams emanating from the kitchen. Squints has a mouse in his mouth and he's carrying it around the house with glee, looking like he's proud to share the spoils of his late night hunt. The first people he saw was my mother in law and wife, so he tried to show them what he'd caught. They freaked out, and it was yet another gracious gift from our feline.
What I learned from these experiences—other than the fact that our cat is growing into a skilled hunter—is that humans often give gifts to other humans without considering whether or not what is given will actually be considered a gift. And this is especially the case with creatives, artists, and leaders of any type. We love to dream up "gifts" for others in our studios and our offices, only to realize that they are received as the exact opposite when we finally give them away.
I don't blame cats for this type of behaviour, because cats are cats. But humans are humans, and we should know better when we're attempting to give gifts. This is because we have the conscious faculties required to think about the people we're giving gifts to.
It could be a birthday present.
It could be a song.
It could be a lecture.
It could be a piece of advice.
It could be a loan.
It could be anything shared with another person with the intention of introducing some sort of affirmation or positivity in their life. But before we dream about our gifts to others and think they're definitely going to love this, we need to pause and reflect before we move forward. Because at the end of the gift making and giving process we might've just ended up giving someone else a dead mouse.
No, we don't need to capitulate to every person's concept of a gift. But, we should also be conscious that there's a marked difference between capitulation and consideration when giving any kind of gift.