Today I’m doing an exploratory essay for the challenge, and, by the way, I invite you to do the same. By exploratory I mean that I don’t know how it will end …what I will decide by the time the last word typed. To be honest, a good many of my little diatribes are like that. Perhaps you can tell? Perhaps you will notice going forward.
I’ve looked around at what others say about the old battle, creativity vs. talent, and I am beginning to wonder if the conflict is real—that is to say worth the trouble—or if it is just a bit of subjective silliness?
We all know people we think of as talented. We differentiate them from others for the ease by which they accomplish whatever it is they are “talented” at. I am, frankly, unsure whether talent actually exists, at least in the form we assume it has. I wonder if it is, perhaps, just a single-mindedness, a poring over a particular topic, whether by choice or by chance, that gives the appearance, the effect, of talent.
Is talent like luck (another non-thing: luck is when preparation meets opportunity)? Is talent perhaps single-mindedness meeting a desire to complete a thing? Here’s another question for you, if talent exists, is it a good thing?
Think about this. Two brothers (I know them, they’re real) have an interest in music. One, the older, seems to be talented. He can pick up any musical instrument and in a week or so play it very well. The other brother has an urge to play, but nowhere near the “inbred talent” of his older brother. Whenever he picks up an instrument and works to learn to play it, his brother takes it up also, out of spite, it seems, and plays well in no time at all. Talk about a professional buzz kill.
But wait, there is more to the story. The “talented” brother doesn’t work at his skills because he doesn’t have to. He becomes facile with each instrument, but never puts any real effort into it. His parents talk about a waste of talent. Meanwhile, the less “talented” brother takes a single instrument and works hard at it. He becomes a master, a virtuoso, something that his “talented” brother can never become. And the moral? Work trumps talent.
Bottom line, I think, is that if we fix on the supposed talent of another rather than working to improve our own skills, we are, perhaps, shooting ourselves in the proverbial foot.
Today’s challenge is this: evaluate yourself… then look around. Are you the talented one? Are you the one who works hard to make it all happen? Are you happy with where you are?
I’d like to know!