"Is your seat empty?" uncle Jack asked me at the kitchen table.
I looked around and thought for a moment that his question was crazy.
"I'm sitting in the chair; how can my seat be empty?" I replied.
Uncle Jack got up from the table, went to the refrigerator, grabbed a bottle of pineapple juice, and repeated, "Billy, is your seat empty?" He sat back on his chair, stared at me, and added, "It's a yes or no question. I'm waiting for your answer."
I didn't know what to say because I didn't understand the question. I answered shyly, "I don't know if my seat is empty or not because I don't understand the question."
He smiled and said, "I like your honesty. You are just like your mom. She always told the truth, even if telling the truth would get her into trouble. When we were kids, I hated her for that. She always snitched on me, telling dad about my bad actions. But when I grew up, I learned that she was right. Always tell the truth regardless of the situation. I missed your mom. My sister was a wonderful person."
"It's been a year since she passed away, and I can't stop thinking of her," I replied.
"Yes, time flies. A year, already," he said and sipped a glace of pineapple juice.
"Let's get back to your question. What do you mean by empty seat?" I questioned.
"To help you understand, I will use some examples to drive my point. When I say, Michael Jordan, what comes to your mind?"
"Basketball," I answered.
"Great! If I say, Bill Gates, your answer is…
At this point, uncle Jack rose to his feet and came close to me.
"You see, Billy, the list can go on and on. Those persons I have mentioned have occupied their seats. They didn't leave their seat empty. Every human being comes to earth with a gift. When you serve your gift to the world, you make the difference." Uncle Jack paused, sipped another glace of juice, and asked, "When you see me, what comes to your mind?"
"A great school teacher. You have impacted many students' lives. I still remember the letter Jamia one of your former student, sent you. She wrote that she became a diplomat, serving our country overseas because of you."
"I taught Jamia in ninth grade. She was a little girl who didn't believe in herself. I built her self-esteem. Look at what she is doing today! Occupying your seat doesn't mean being famous. It simply means you have something the world needs. You were born to contribute something to your generation. Now, my dear nephew, back to my question: is your seat occupied or empty?"
"Empty," I said.
"Fine. It's not too late. Go and serve the world with your gift," uncle Jack commended.
"Wait a minute. I don't even know what my gift is," I replied.
"That's not true. You know it, but you have overlooked it for years," he said.
"How can I have it and not be aware of it?" I asked.
Uncle Jack went upstairs to his bedroom and brought back a painting.
"Do you remember this?" he asked, handing me the painting.
"Yes, I drew it for your fiftieth birthday. I didn't know you kept it."
"This is a treasure. It's your gift. Yes, Billy, you have a painting gift. "
I remained silent for a while and confessed, "I love to paint, but I have never taken it seriously. I was doing it for fun."
"That is the beauty of a gift. It's fun, and it gives you joy. You never get bored doing it. Your gift attracts people. Your seat represents your area of gifting. Only you can occupy your seat. Only you can do what you were born to do. Therefore you don’t need to be jealous or envy anyone else’s seat. Besides, don’t allow your gift to remain untapped. Now is the time to occupy your seat. Go and serve the world with your painting gift. Be the next Picasso the world is waiting for. And remember, from today forwards, never leave your seat empty," uncle Jack instructed.