Years ago I was thinking about a short-lived friendship. While thinking about that friend I Googled her to see what she was up to. She has a beautiful website with all her achievements. She's both a talented musician and artist with a very sophisticated style.
I remember that she always had art projects going on at her house--a house that was decorated in a most cool and funky way. I think of her as someone who is scary talented. Scary talented people, whatever they do--cooking, decorating, art, gardening, etc., they do it with flare and exceedingly well.
I have to admit, I am intimidated and jealous of scary talented folks. I have no conception how it is they can be so productive constantly. On the other hand, I also find them restless and self-critical. It's not easy to be scary talented and have the level of expectation they have. As much as I am jealous, and I am--I would far rather be moderately talented and have some peace of mind.
As I was thinking about her, I started thinking about talent in general--and
what it means in our society. I remember reading Temple Grandin's
Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships: Decoding Social Mysteries Through the
Unique Perspective of Autism. I picked it up for my nephew,
but I took a look at it to see what unwritten rules of social relationships might be revealed to me. Even people without autism can use help in relating to others, and I am no exception.
In one chapter Temple Grandin stressed that finding one's talent can be extremely important for doors to open and be a success in the world. This would be especially true for an autistic person with limited interpersonal skills. However, what if a talent cannot be identified? What can such a person do?
I remember loving the movie The Soloist, but what if Nathaniel Ayers hadn't had that visible talent? Would he be left on the street with the other homeless? Why is it his talent made him a worthwhile investment while others without it are not? This bothers me--this obsession with talent to the degree that those without it are marginalized and those with it are given special treatment and support. I know it's the way the world operates, but it makes me sad sometimes.
I saw much of this happening when my daughter was young in school. Some kids
were early bloomers and were taken under the wings of teachers and mentors as
being particularly "special." I got the sense she felt left out, but
then around high school her scary talent began to burst through the seams.
took speech and debate and began winning awards. The pressure mounted as her
teacher began to use her as a personal status symbol. Once a talent is noticed,
the fame machine takes over even in high school. True, it is a much smaller
scale without the monetary stakes, but that sense of obligation to perform for
others begins. As much as I tried to convince her that she did not need
to push herself so hard, she wouldn't listen. Life had set her up for a lesson,
and there was not a thing I could do about it.
If you love your talent, it's a beautiful thing. And it is also lovely if your talent brings joy to others. I learned that I have fans who enjoy reading my posts. I've never had fans before. That's so funny. Fans? Unheard of. What does it mean? Is life now easy street? No, it's the same old street with the same old self-doubts and anxiety. Still, it's good to know, especially for a late-bloomer like me.