Maya Angelou said, “I am a human being; therefore, nothing human can be alien to me.” This is what I drew inspiration for when thinking about my Arbitrary Day gift for my random ‘secret santa’ giftee I had been assigned this year.
Every year, Reddit hosts a huge international Secret Santa. People fill out basic profiles and are matched anonymously; outside of said profile, it’s up to you to do your own internet research to find a gift this person would like. Some folks just pick from an Amazon wish list and others really dig to find something special. You might recall my participation last year involved a hand painted portrait of a recently passed dog for a college student in Austin, TX. Needless to say, I’m more about the research method.
Not only do they do this at Christmas, but halfway through the year there’s also an ‘Arbitrary Day’ gift exchange that is pretty self explanatory. Being more familiar with the process, I waited eagerly in anticipation for matching, which occurred last week. This time around, I was matched with a young lady in Maryland that had a lot of interests I could relate to, like gaming, wall art, dogs, and movies; horror movies in particular. That’s the path I looked down first. Perhaps something related to John Carpenter’s Halloween, one of my favorite horror films. She’s pretty big into Guild Wars 2 according to her posts on Reddit, maybe I could find something in that vein that would be appropriate. Then, I found what I was looking for.
I found a mention of her sadness at Ray Bradbury passing. A quick Google search turned up what would be her main gift: a copy of the poem ‘Doing is Being’ by Ray Bradbury. I felt the message was very appropriate for an event like Arbitrary Day: the true blood of life comes from activity and giving of one’s self. Not only that, but this particular item was the first printing of the poem, distributed on April 9, 1980 for Walt Disney Imagineering. And it had his signature on it. It was perfect and fit into my budget, surprisingly.
My mind returned to the horror aspect of her professed likes. What could I add that addressed that? It was then that Maya Angelou’s quote came to me. I needed something that represented the yin to Bradbury’s yang. I looked through my artwork and found the other gift. It’s a picture I took inside S-21, or Tuol Sleng, a former high school turned prison in Cambodia used by the Khmer Rouge in the last half of the 1970’s. It’s terrifying what people can be capable of, and being in a place where such atrocities were committed brought about a time of self evaluation and understanding for me.
I wrote a letter explaining all this and shipped it off today. She should receive it on Tuesday and I wait excitedly, hoping she will enjoy these things.