Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

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Tengo Un Regalo Para Ti

Barajas, Madrid, Spain

October 14, 2010



This essay, Tengo Un Regalo Para Ti, is the fourth in a group of four written in Madrid, October 2010:
  1. Miles And Miles And Miles
  2. Through Spanish Ears
  3. River Of People
  4. Tengo Un Regalo Para Ti
in that order.




A guitar always feels good to hold.

I take the neck in my left hand, position my fingers on the strings, and strum a G-chord with my right thumb. Immediately I can tell something doesn't sound right. Something's missing. I look. Sure enough, the D-string is broken. Our friend looks around the kitchen door, a dish towel over her shoulder, a clean plate in one hand, a shiny glass in the other. Smiling, she says something in Spanish. My daughter translates. "She says 'The D-string is broken.'". "Yes, I notice" I say - which my daughter also translates.

We're out walking doing nothing, talking about nothing of any consequence. We stop for gelato  cones which we lick as we walk, window shopping, people watching, bumping into each other, moving apart, holding hands briefly when our fingers touch, letting go. She's such a gift to me. Just being with her like this validates my life. Then, almost as if she can read my mind, she says "I love you being here with me Daddy.". "It's mutual Girly" I say. "It's a real gift to me that you invited me to be here with you.".

We walk on, down crowded avenues, across busy intersections, through quaint, historic malls. Soon we come on a music store. She goes to the sheet music racks looking for songs she can sing with her choir. I watch her. I see her music legacy  coming down to her, through  her - from her great grandmother Lena to her grandmother Andee to her aunt Anthea and to her. Her music legacy comes down to her from her paternal  great grandmother's side of our family.

My reverie  is interrupted as I remember the broken D-string. I'll buy a new one here for our friend! This is obviously the place to do exactly that. I walk over to where guitars are lined up neatly in rows. I pick one up. Immediately an assistant comes over to me and says something in Spanish which I regret I don't understand. At least I can say "Yo no hablo español"  which I'm actually quite proud to be able to say - not that it does me any good! And she says, with a nice smile and a thick Spanish accent "Can I help you?".

Relieved, I proffer the guitar and point to the third string from the top. It's clear to her what I want. She sells me one for two euros. On the way out of the store I show my daughter what I bought and, in preparation for giving it to our friend, I ask her to translate "I have a gift for you" into Spanish. My daughter tells me it's "Tengo un regalo para ti.". I practice it. I get it wrong. I get it right. I get it wrong again. All the way home I burst out "Tengo un regalo para ti"  on the metro, "Tengo un regalo para ti"  on the sidewalk, "Tengo un regalo para ti"  underneath a huge Spanish language billboard for the movie The Social Network, over and over and over again until my daughter confirms I'm saying it right.

We get back to our friend's place. I'm ready. Offering her the gift wrapped guitar string, I say "Tengo un regalo para ti"  to our friend, proud to be sounding as if I'm truly bilingual  - which of course I'm not. Her eyes light up. It's only two euros. But it's a great gift, a thoughtful gift, an appropriate  gift. She asks me to replace the string on her guitar and tune it - which I gladly do for her. With the string replaced, I can play. I strum through my version of, my tribute to The Beatles It's Only Love  all the way through the climactic and moving "Yoo-ooo-oou"  at the end. When I finish, I notice my daughter and our friend are sitting near me, listening intently.

Long after the song ends, I'm still saying it: "Tengo un regalo para ti. I have a gift for you. Tengo un regalo para ti.". But now it's referring to much more than a replacement for a missing guitar string. Now it's referring to who I really am. The gift I have for her is who I really am. The gift I have for you  is who I really am. It's the only gift everyone wants from me - even if they don't quite say in such certain terms. It's who I really am. And it's the only gift I want to give you. It's the only gift I want to give anyone. It's the only gift I want to give everyone, actually. It's who I really am. Because when I give you who I really am, I give you who you really are. It's the only authentic gift I have to give. It's the only gift worth giving. And if you tell the truth about it, it's the only gift you want.

"Tengo un regalo para ti"  has morphed. "I have a gift for you" is now "I am  a gift for you.".

It started as a simple translated statement when presenting a guitar's replaced broken D-string to our friend.

Now it's the space to come from.



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