I love watching soccer. Growing up I would play with my neighbors on summer evenings. Not much skill on my part, but I loved the chase and the competition. Along with large portions of the world I am watching the World Cup games. Not great for getting things done on my 'to do' list, but I can't help but feel drawn to the thrill of the games.
I was watching one conversation between a recently retired soccer player who was thanked by another soccer player for the gift he gave through his time as a player. And it's true watching him play was a gift. A glimpse at something beautiful.
I believe that art is a service. A gift. This isn't always how I treat art or how others view it. But ultimately I think the performer's role, the actor's role is to give a gift. To serve the words and story and the audience and give something to be received by the audience.
The hard part about a gift is when you give it you aren't always sure how someone will receive it. And you don't really have control over that. The only thing you have control over is what you put into the gift and then the task of giving it out.
Like soccer, we can make art into a business or a celebration of celebrity and power. But even in the midst of that we can find moments where actors or soccer players give us a gift. Moments where you see training and practice coming to life on the field or stage.
And perhaps what makes it a community, both for the soccer players and actors on stage, is when we give and take. When the athletes and actors give their best and the audience receives it and gives back in return. Because the audience helps the performance be all the greater. Which is why teams who play on their home soil often do better or why actors can create magical moments when the audience is fully alive and connected.
Perhaps we give gifts of ourselves because we know how much we are in need of connection. The reminder that under all the lights and power and celebrity we all long for belonging and value.
I'm thankful for beautiful games of soccer. For teams that play with heart and beauty. I'm grateful for the moments when audience and performer can sense that for a moment in time we are connected by a gift, that we are in communion with one another reminding each other to empathize and see one another. Because a gift connects people - giver and the receiver - connected by something offered.