I’m a very humble girl. Really I am. No eye rolling please. But if there is one thing I’ll give myself credit for, it’s that I am an amazing gift giver. I don’t just mean that I give fancy, expensive gifts. I give freaking thoughtful gifts, the kind of gifts that make people tear up and say, “I can’t believe you remembered! I only mentioned this, once, briefly, in passing, ages ago!”
I refuse to give gift cards, cash, or anything generic. I am violently opposed to giving candles, fizzy or scented bath products, food items (unless it’s a special theme – like all green foods to match a new kitchen, or citrus to ward off scurvy), or anything that you would buy for a stranger because you don’t know the recipient well enough to get them something they really want.
If you’re giving a gift, it is hopefully because someone you care about is celebrating some kind of important event, and I like my gift to reflect that. Even when I do buy for a stranger, for a big gift exchange maybe, I try to be original. While others may bring the Chia Pet gag gift, or the generic box of candy, I try to stand out. I once put together a little box that included a disposable camera, a bottle of baby oil, a pair of handcuffs and some glow-in-the-dark condoms. All useful items individually, but put them together and it was quite the talk of the office.
But what does gift giving have to do with Jason Mraz? Aw, thanks for asking. I like it when the people at home play along. Because the Prophet Mraz is such a well-rounded guy, he agrees with me on many things – possibly even gift giving – but definitely on the subject of travel.
“Traveling has a major impact on what I do, cause all over the world I’m meeting all kinds of people. And relationships is the second major impact that I have… I just enjoy the variety that the world has to offer.”
Hallelujah! Praise the Prophet who can rock it! Woo! I firmly believe you have to get out there and see the world. I think it’s your responsibility as a human to see how the other humans live, to make friends with a few of them, and to let them know you.
(Now I’ll make the gift-travel connection so you can get off the edge of your seat. I can see you starting to panic. “Where is she going with this? Where, where?! I can’t take the suspense!”)
My super good friend and fellow karass member, Justin, turned 21 a while ago. That’s a pretty important milestone, and I wanted to do something even more special than special for him. After all, he’s one of my favorite people ever, and I want not just good things for him, but big things. So what to get a twenty-something who has a whole big life ahead of him? After much consideration, I decided to give him the world.
More specifically, I made him a passport kit. I printed out the application, went to the post office and got the necessary money orders, put another $15 in an envelope and labeled it for his passport photo, and then I bought The Travel Book by Lonely Planet, which features a page on each country in the world, so he can pick where to go first, or just be an armchair traveler. Then I wrapped it all up in a world map (National Geographic, not Rand McNally, sorry), and gave it to him with a bottle of Kahlua, because you can’t not give alcohol on a 21st birthday. (Plus I ordered a special label from kahlua.com so it had his name on it. It’s the little touches that count.)
The one thing I thought about adding to this package, but didn’t, was a camera. Why? Because Jason Mraz said not to. Kinda. Not really. It’s like this: When I saw Mraz perform in Tahoe this past January he was talking about his recent trip to India, and he said it always amazed him how many people traveled with a camera in front of their faces – people who were in the most incredible places on earth, but only saw them through a little digital screen.
I also find it a little sad. I have many memories of standing in front of beautiful sunsets, historic monuments, or sitting at cafes in the middle of crazy markets or plazas, and while I’m taking it all in – sights, sounds, smells – there’s always someone else yelling, “Hey Elsie, take a step to the right!” Sometimes they’re yelling it in German or Japanese, but you get the picture (oooh, bad pun). Now I’m an amateur photog myself, and I love to play with my camera, but I also know when to put the damn thing away and just appreciate the moment. And I think that’s what Jason has turned into an art form, appreciating all the moments, even the little in between ones that don’t seem so important.
So, dear Justin, I hope you get that passport and I hope you use it to go all over the world, meeting humans and taking it all in. And if you have to have a picture, take it, but if it means missing the moment, just buy a postcard. (Oh, and send it to me!)
Fancy, lucky me,