Gina Barreca: Sure I’m Shameless — It’s A Gift

By Gina Barreca
The Hartford Courant.

What three gifts you were given at birth? I’m not asking about your accomplishments or achievements. I’m certainly not asking what you made of yourself, but I am asking you to decide from what you were made.

What can you speed through faster than anybody else? What are your get-out-of-jail free cards?

Most of us wouldn’t be able to claim the way old-time Disney princesses could, that our fairy godmothers awarded us grace, sweet natures and good looks.

Off-screen, our gifts are, shall we say?, more varied.

Mine, for example, can’t be found on any gift registry. That’s one reason it took me a long time to recognize them as advantages and admit that they’re precisely the traits that make me who I am.

It turns out that my gifts, like my sins, are ones of omission.

It’s not what I was born with that matters: It’s what I was born without. Since infancy, I’ve had no shame, no fear of speaking up and not even a hint of perfectionism.

So think for a moment (but not too long, this is about instinct) and decide what your fairy godmothers, or the genetic code or fate gave you. What did the benefactors, before you were born, choose as factory-issued attributes you’d be given to help you get through life?

I asked my Facebook tribe this question and more than 100 of them answered within 12 hours. I was surprised at the clear constellations visible from the pattern of their replies.

Most of them happily laid claim to a sense of humor, a talent for telling a story and a willingness to make the best of a bad situation. They’re grateful for their smarts, their resilience and their health. They understand the privilege of being born into an environment where they can have legal access to education, to health care and to free expression, aware that not only their ancestors but many of their contemporaries around the world are denied these essential human rights.

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