Do I really wish for talent?

Have you found yourself wishing for a particular talent?

Crest of HMS Talent
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While some people may pine for a particular talent, perhaps the ability to paint pastoral scenes or to play chess like a champion, I take a slightly different view on what counts as talent. You see, throughout my life I have never failed to notice when someone referred to me as talented; as a kid, my head was big with it. I was smart, and I was talented, and those were the things that made me proud because I know I did not have things like money or physical prowess. But looking back, I tend to think that “talent” as people call it is overrated.

Why? Because we all have talents. I was often complimented on things like my linguistic ability, my piano playing, and my drawing abilities; this last one always drew the most acclaim, it seems, because so many people wish they can draw, and for what it’s worth, there’s nothing wrong with that. Also, I seem to have this thing about becoming at least decently proficient in whatever I undertake, such as bookbinding, knitting, running, et cetera . . . I like to do things to do them and to learn to do them well enough, and the road behind me is littered with such hobbies and pursuits as to create a characteristic trail that practically narrates my life and state of mind. So what’s wrong with this idea of talent?

That’s just it. Talent is not something that a person naturally has, but an aptitude that one has developed through time and practice. I get that now, and so I feel a little sheepish to realize that I ever thought that there was ever anything special about me; although I am quite special, the things I have endeavoured to master do not set me apart from the herd in any significant way. But I’m also pensive on this issue for another reason – through the endeavour to master many things, I have long suspected that I may have delayed or even crippled the incredible success I may have enjoyed in life.

I once read about a quote by Joan Rivers – and for the life of me I can’t find it now, even with the unimaginably massive power of the Internet – about how to succeed in life. The upshot was, find a thing to do and stick to it. Focus on it. Don’t try to do too many things because you won’t be able to do any one of them better than everyone else. And in my search for this quote I found this short video that showcases exactly my feelings about the nature of talent:

This is how you acquire talent; it’s not a twenty you find on the side of the road, but a tree that you plant from a seed and you laboriously water and fertilize and prune until it reaches maturity; and then, truly understanding where that tree is coming from, you take seeds from that tree and you plant an orchard, and when you have your orchard full of fruit, that is your talent. It doesn’t come overnight, in a flash, but over years of hard work; you look back on all the work you put into it and that is something to be proud of. A lot of us have something like that, whether we realize it or not; in fact, most of us are talented in some way or another, and to wish for another talent is like wishing for a different spouse. By doing so, we do a disservice to the talent that we have and we actually risk damaging or losing it through inattention.

So in that regard, do I really have a talent? I mean, after all the different arts and crafts I have worked at and practiced and tried to be proficient at, is there something I’ve found that I really want to work at making my orchard?

I do, and I came to it after thinking that I would never do it again because it was too much work, that I would never have the time required to devote to it. I don’t wish for any talent other than the one that I have, and I don’t have any illusions about how I’m going to get it; you can’t get a talent or just have it. You have to want it, you have to work for it, and you have to win it through persistence.

And so, all my friends and followers, I continue to write.


This post was prompted by today’s Daily Post prompt.

10 thoughts on “Do I really wish for talent?”

  1. I really enjoyed this post. As someone who finds too many things interesting and worth learning more about or learning to do, I envy someone who can find that one thing and love it so passionately that all else fades away.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Great post and I understand how you feel about *talent.* It’s about prioritizing and choosing the most passionate of interests if possible … but as you’ve said, it’s important to keep the creative channels open and flowing because inspiration comes from so many different places.

    1. You got that right! And the way I see it, if it’s not possible to choose what you’re most passionate about, then you’re just lying to yourself and you have to figure out what gets you so revved you’re willing to actually make that jump.

      1. Well … that *is* true … but some people take longer to figure it out to begin with … but if you already know and choose to deny it …. well the Universe has a way of making you pay attention …. yeah … that sounds strange …. but you know what I mean … eventually you will be lead to where you are *supposed* to be … I think ….

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